I am backpacking with my two sons, snow is on the ground. Lake Basin, high in the Sierras -- glacial grind, snowmelt and landslides.
The two of them are excited, or more specifically enthusiastic -- bear their burdens gladly, only it is too cold. They know, though, the worth is in the work.
What if, asks the younger, we were just dropped off and all our stuff was already there and set up?
It would ruin it, replied the older, shifting his pack on his shoulders, thats what its all about.
We look over a sheer slate wall down to the rippling lake blue like a jewel. Hold on, shouts the younger, I'm sketching you in my notebook. He makes us hold onto poses we did not know we were striking. He draws with immersion. His tongue seems to be concentrating.
I can see how excited they are to be men with me and I am filled with a sky-blue delight.
The setting sun marks the next day's goal, marks the sharp peak red as dragon's teeth.
I am watching the fire die while they two are all drowsed away in warm and downy sleep
I watch the fire die. I keep company with paper and pencil, pipe and whiskey. The moon creeps full. I pull a card from the deck: The beginning of all things. God's magic thunder-light. Alpha.
I am terrified of the cold of the world in the dying light, but tonight I will rest in downy peace between my two princes.
King of what's left.