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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Claire Everett

Base Jumping

Today is a good day to die.

Crazy Horse's exhortation to the Lakota people. I've thought it, if not uttered the words, on days like this when I awoke to my lover's smile and watched the morning pause on the mountains to catch its breath. Strange that it's something we say when we feel most alive. What are we seeking? a life well lived? that final stamp of red ink when they (whoever they are) close the file? How do we earn their seal of approval? We could set out for the long haul with a sixty litre rucksack, stopping here and there to admire the view, careful with our footing on the slow descent; or we might head for the sheer face with ropes and carabiners, rappelling with ease when it's time; or perhaps we'll set our sights on cliff edge or river gorge, launching ourselves into the blue, uncertain when, or if, the parachute will open.

what roosts
and what takes to the wing . . .
autumn dusk

How many do I know who have been awarded the accolade: a life well lived? Too often it's coronary heart disease, or cancer, that stops them in their tracks, but there was that neighbour from my childhood – Mrs Clay. She'd out-lived her husband by a decade or two, but she could be spotted most days, pottering about in her cottage garden among the foxgloves and lupins, or sweeping the leaves. You could set your watch by that line of pristine washing, pegged out with care. Apparently, that last morning, she was sitting on the edge of her bed, just about to put on her tights . . .

laundry day. . .
billowing white