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December 2007, vol 3 no 4

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Lynn Edge

 

Late Snow

I recall the epigraph to Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, "One generation passeth away." (Ecclesiastes)

Stiffening knees and back whisper my own transitory time. Yet I yearn to see Sierra Blanca covered with snow. For weeks, months, years, I talk, plan, then cancel. Finally, my husband and I travel across the Texas plains to the Sacramento Mountains in Southern New Mexico. Our destination is the alpine village of Ruidoso, named after a noisy river en Espanol. Before the journey, I listened to the weather report–a foot of powder on slopes of Ski Apache and three inches in the village.

From Roswell we leave the desert and take Highway 70 west toward the Sacramentos. My pulse races. I want to experience snow, but imagine slipping or falling. The sun shines. Roads are clear. In Ruidoso we turn up Sudderth Drive which follows the river. I cross a narrow bridge, and see stones flocked with snow. Dark water runs like a cave through white banks. Ahead, Sierra Blanca at twelve thousand feet blocks the sky. The blanketed summit gleams above the pine line.

silvery needles
flakes of snow trim
blue spruce

My knees crunch as I climb the six steps into our room at the Village Lodge, but I am rewarded with a fireplace. My husband strikes a match to the kindling. I sit in a gold swivel rocker; he lies on the plaid sofa. While we watch the logs burn, the comforting scent of pinion fills the room. "You wouldn't have come when we were younger," I say.

After a pause he answers, "Probably not." The unseasoned wood pops and a spark falls on the hearth. In the kitchenette, I make hot chocolate, pour it into cups, and hand him one. I lift the cocoa to my lips, and savor it, bittersweet, as flames consume the pinion pine.

howling
in the ponderosas—
night winds