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Candace Nadon


All that is left are hollowing squash, their seeds pulling away from their mealy flesh; wrinkling, aging apples; jars of harvest preserved.  We are fooled by these bright sealed jars lining our pantry shelves and gleaming like jewels.  We do not have to cut or peel or chop or boil, only open, pour, reheat.  We are lucky to have them. 

The hush of falling snow insulates us.  We watch it drifting down in fat, soft, flakes disappearing into a mass of white as they fall to the ground.  We will build snowman, we tell each other.  We will strap on our snowshoes and hike our favorite trails, will get first tracks.  We will tube and build snow caves; ice climb and carol throughout the neighborhoods.  We will burrow into the sofa to drink hot cocoa and read Dickens, the cat purring beside us.  The yeasty smell of bread rising on the stove and the smoky scent of logs morphing into yellow flame wrap around us, lulling us. 

 But the mountains trick us.  The snow crusts into a frozen mass and we cannot follow the trail. We are afraid of falling into holes, of sliding down the mountainside into the frigid creek.  The creek’s thin layer of ice will not hold our weight, and we fear we will plummet into the dark water, our limbs rendered useless by the cold water.  We hear that yet another skier has crashed into a tree, spectacularly smashing his head against an aspen trunk.  We tell ourselves he was careless and stupid, a novice, certainly.  Then a local man is buried by an avalanche.  His body, born along by the weight of crashing snow, will remain hidden until the snow melts.  And then it will no longer be much of a body.
Darkness descends quickly, dropping a curtain of black, dividing the afternoon in half.  We hold tight to the sun, the brilliant, gleaming sun, the sun that blinds us, that prevents us from seeing our shadows forging ahead, forming our steps before we take them.