the other day I read a beautiful thought about climbing.
it suggested that instead of moaning, panting, whining and suffering your way up a hill, you be grateful for the earth's gentle rise that moves you higher and higher until you are standing atop a peak, gazing down at the lower spot from which you came.
from alan watts' what is tao?:
we speak of "the conquest of nature" . . . and of the "conquest" of great mountains like Everest. And one might very well ask us, "What on Earth is the matter with you? Why must you feel as if you are in a fight with your environment all the time? Aren't you grateful to the mountain that it lifted you up as you climbed to the top of it?"
ah. a much gentler way to approach those hills I so love, those canyons, those 9% grades. from now on I will let them lift me up.
unfortunately, the other day I neglected to remember this concept and I fought my way to the top of big mountain, sweating, breathing laboriously, wondering why my bike had so few gears.
when I reached the top, snow dusted mountain peaks visible miles and miles away, I expected to encounter the snowbank at the Morgan County sign, as I'd seen two weeks prior.
it was gone.
that three foot bank of snow was gone, and it was hard to imagine that it melted away during those fourteen days.
so I kept riding, slowly, having crested the peak and beginning to descend onto the back side of big mountain, wondering just how far I'd be able to go. had it really melted? or had the plow come through?
it was quickly apparent the snow mounds on either side of the road were sloped and obviously melting, and just as obviously pushed there, at some point, by a plow.
the hillsides are still thick with snow, shaded by the front of big mountain. the temperature dropped five degrees quickly, maybe ten, and I could feel cold radiating from the great piles of snow all around me. at times the road is narrower than a car lane, perhaps snow has slid across since the plow pushed its way through.
I traveled only to the end of the false summit, a mile and a half down, shivering and glorying in the thrill of being in this beautiful spot of earth I've never, ever seen blanketed with snow. less than a mile from the top is a sharply cut red earth hillside that you curve around, and it was still thick with snow: the deep rusty red earth, the milk-white snow, the rich green conifers, all deep and vibrant.
it's easy to think you've seen it all, you've been everywhere around, you've had every experience out there.
but it's never true.
the gift of the snowplow, this time, was obvious, and gratefully gathered to my heart.