The horizon line looks like a line drawn from the hands of the seven year old in the back seat. It is flat, but not completely straight. The slight deviations of the norm represent the variations of the landscape, the landscape that soon goes from flat to bumpy, to mountainous. The boy doesn’t see the change, the metamorphosis of the world, but I do. I have spent the better half of the last four hours watching it like a man watching his lover sleep, admiring the contour of the silhouette against the bright blue sky. He doesn’t see the beauty of it all, just the mountains that soon approach. I see the melancholy contentment of New Mexico, the land that makes one think that if Purgatory exists, it is New Mexico. I see the vastness of nothing, but see the calmness that the Land of Enchantment is so dutifully named. I see the books of Zane Grey and Louis l’Amour come alive in the terrain that is before me. I can hear the passages of Jim Harrison come to life as I pass big lands with little signs of life. I see the nature that God has created. The boy see the mountains. We both see the same thing, but we don’t agree on what is out there.
He attacks first, the boy that is. No time for warming up, no time to survey a new slope, studying the bends and the curves, cautious as to not end up a victim of hazardness. He is gone the first chance he gets, the only direction is down, to hell with left or right. I will come up behind, ready to pick up any pieces, if any, that are left of his unending abandonment of reality. He makes the first run with no problem. For all he knows, the mountain now belongs to him, the dragon has been slayed and all is left is to butcher him up. Boys are funny, they are like meek men that see the mountains and think they conquered them. They see the oceans and feel like they control them once crossed. Mother Nature is never conquered. Old men know how She operates, They have tasted Her lips and realized She is not a lover that is to be conquered. She will tease you and allow you your glory. But the mountains will be there long after the boy is a man, and the man is gone to the better place. Man does not conquer the mountains, the mountains simply allow man the opportunity to conquer his own fears.
The boy does not know this now. I do. I will pray to the mountain before the day and offer thanks to it after the day is gone. The mountain is part of the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit laughs at the boys youth, like a large dog allowing the baby to crawl all over him. I know what the mountain can do, I know what it is capable of. Soon the baby will grow and the dog may not allow the rough play anymore. I simply pray today is not that day.
The boy tests his boundaries of speed and gravity. He will go down as fast as he can and will attempt to jump up when the path allows. He learns to maneuver between the trees and how to get up when the new snow is deep outside the paths he should stay on, but doesn’t. This is his world, he is Magellan, he is “shredding” every part of the mountain he can find, on his way to owning it. I laugh at his attempts and marvel at his successes. He will sleep well during the night, dreaming of the day’s battle and planning for tomorrow’s attacks. The mountain doesn’t sleep, ever, She stands majestically in the moonlight giggling to Herself of the boys adventure. She will await his warm hugs in the cold mornings and offer him a place to become a man. I am grateful to Her and Her tests for the boy. I am thankful she is taking it easy on the old man.
The Mountain is soon behind us, we drive away, passing Her sisters and admiring their beauty as well. The boy again goes back to doing what boys do, and I am looking at the landscape again, the one that goes from mountains to the uneven flat line. There is not much to see, but for some reason the lack of sights allows for the purging of thought. Boys don’t think of the land the way old men do. They have yet to understand what it is that the land means and represents. Men will see the countryside and its beauty will remind them of a former lover, or current one. Mother Nature is the first love we don’t realize we have, but we retreat to her, every chance we get, to receive the comfort only She gives. She is the place we want to be when the world is crazy. She is beautiful, even when her actions seem hostile. Young men try and conquer, old men have learned to respect. The boy will come back again, to play in the lap of the mountain. She will smile when she sees him and again offer up the challenges that will make him a man, a man that one day will stare out the window and revel in the beauty of the land, the land that he calls his lover. The lover that calms his thoughts.