why did the mouse cross the road?
Now finally the boys had earned their stripes and rope burn on those beloved meadows whereupon one can climb above the trees to catch a breath and gaze over the stunning blue expanse of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and so as a special treat we introduced them to soft-serve skiing in the Cascades on a sunny Sunday in the mountains above Seattle where currently there’s enough snow for the North and South Poles which was of particular consolation to poor sneezy Adam with-glasses-falling-to-the-end-of-his-nose who enjoyed the respite from upstart powdery pollen down on the springy Whulge. The pass across the Cascade Mountains here is unusually low elevation and such as it is characterized by a relatively mild maritime climate and being that carbon levels have passed the dreaded oh shit tipping point, by the time the boys are my age it’s quite possible rangy polar bears will be terrorizing those exceedingly well-dressed hikers who flock here in the summertime to blab on their cell phones and sad to say there probably won’t be any skiing left to speak of and the chairlifts will be trucked to the scrapyard where they fully belong if you ask me and the hillside will stop getting brushed out and slowly grow back up (the scenery is still pretty purty if you block out the clanking, vibrating equipment and buzzing interstate highway and concentrate on the majestic view north to triangle and blob-shaped mountains).
Up until now, as I was earlier alluding to, the boys have been schussing, swooshing or whatever vernacular you wanna invoke, exclusively in the northern range of the Olympics where it’s quieter so the carnival atmosphere on the citified mountainside yesterday was an eye-opener initially but as they carry the more personable personhood gene from their mother, the two of them seamlessly embraced the humanity with smiles on their faces while I preferred to stick myself upside down in a snowbank for lower-priced, family-friendlier entertainment. Seventeen runs they did down the intermediate hills with names like Dodge Ridge and Big Bill, maybe Bill is the guy who cut all the trees down? Adam, my oldest, is the careful technician who carves meticulous, controlled turns just the way he plays piano (unless he’s goofing around with the metronome) and while doing all this beautiful slowing-down mastery he’s looking around a lot, floating across the mountain meanwhile watching Oliver is not soothing to the nerves as he is the no-nonsense commuter who prefers the bullet train with nary a look up from his newspaper, thank you very much.
The last time they went skiing at the less fancy place where tough guys throw their skis in the back of pickups next to toolboxes, sawdusted oil rags and wear dirty gardening gloves for the rope tow, I waved see ya later to the boys and disappeared into the woods for hours by my lonesome and had a splendid time shooting and that’s where the image of this mile-high hemlock comes from. No clanking chairlifts here and what’s more frequent gale force wintertime winds mean lotta those other people blow away. The color exposure was arguably better owing to the striking contrast between green of the lichen and deep blue sky and that’s probably what caught my initial fancy but the form spoke something about the way to go as the breeze gently lifted that lichen at the end of the short snag, an alien pincer (though I was the stranger) pointing the way and it was the right way or maybe it was getting rid of me, I dunno.
On the way home last night the boys were famished from too much fun so we stopped in a little foothills town which rests startlingly at the base of the most towering mountain you ever saw that thrusts skyward from the valley floor like a geyser of rock and green and at the corner by the popular restaurant featured in a popular television program of yore I commenced a lawful right hand turn in my automobile and as I performed this maneuver the tiniest mouse nervously skittered in the crosswalk, over to the curb. Luckily for her the town is ADA-compliant and she safely completed the journey around Rodent Cape Horn. I’m not a big mouse guy but the boys anthropomorphize the heck out of everything and so she was more than a furry speck to me and besides a few years ago, horrors because a chipmunk loitering in the road got pancaked. At any rate, the little mouse crossed the street to safety and the boys devoured cheeseburgers and French fries from Scott’s Dairy Freeze. Since it was a school night and the evening was getting on we had to zoom back down to Puget Sound City for bedtime. The boys hungrily gobbled their food in the car with their wind-burned faces stuck in their chapter books and they got greasy fries all over the floor. You know what? A long time ago, a band of mice overwintered in the car and those little things made themselves at home, chewed up a bunch of wires for their personal entertainment, causing all sorts of problems with blinking lights and serious messages on the dashboard saying stuff like pull over buddy you got major issues!
postscript: Wrote 99.99% of this on Monday. Felt rather conflicted about the bourgeoisie soundingness of the ski-thing but thought about grizzled Frank in Port Angeles, mom and dad on Medicaid, my duct-taped boots and probable arteriosclerosis from all the government cheese and Price Saver Cornflakes when I was the boys’ age and decided to hell with unhelpful class consciousness.