Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fleeting Memory of my Youth

He jumps, rock to rock, with the agility that betrays his age. his tromp is accompanied by one arm raised, flailing in a mimicry of The Man From Snowy River. Nothing thrills a young heart like emulating a hero. He leaps upward and outward He's now at full gallop on the slabs of mossy limestone, clad in rubber boots that yield as sure a footing as any bronco's hooves. The incline of the hillside gives a perfect ebb of propulsion, and the sprigs of hickory and ash lick softly and woosh by, giving an air of risk. Feeding the young imagination with the makings of a grand scene. His arm makes another full loop above his head as he gains speed and leaps from the largest of the stones in his path. Now, he wills himself into slow motion- just like Clancy- He gives an encouraging 'Yah!' to his invisible stallion. And then down, down, down with the soft breeze amplifying the rush of blood through his ears.

Amazing that this child hasn't broken a bone. the embankment he is descending is a decent 40 degree slope of stone. littered with pine-knot and stumps. The sapling pine that brave this incline are scattered, sparse and humble. offering little to brace against in case of a tumble. and now, not 20 yards from our young hero, is the Abyssal Drop. The trees below reach up past the lip of the ledge and are, to the untrained eye, the same size as a sapling hedge. Thanks to the wind, their height is betrayed, there is a notably more pronounced sway to them, and its becomes apparent that they are reaching much higher than at first it seems. the drop is otherwise unmarked, the ledge buried in a thick layer of brown pine needles and bark, dry and splintery on top and moist and peatish beneath, knitted together with the occasional leaf. and hidden in that mass, a tangle of roots, as if their purpose is a loose foothold to young and stubborn rubber boots. the drop is a good 25 feet of air, the ground below more rocky and bare, the trees at the bottom many years older. and all along the bottom of this wall lay boulders, they are the only padding against a fall.

The boy slows his pace, well before he approaches the ledge. he digs in his heels against the earth. he knows of the peril, still off a ways. he turns his steed to cross the incline and comes to a stop. now heres the second part of his quest, scrambling back to the top.
His mind now throws off the guise of cowboy, and trades it for that of an Indian. one who knows the land well. he is every bit as nimble in his ascent as before, now planning a path based on presence of trees, which he uses as holds to bolster himself upright. now and then the roots of these plants prove to weak against the load and are drawn from their precious earth. Maybe Indian is not the right persona for this, he decides. and with all the reason his young mind can muster, McGuyver takes over. He is now agile of necessity, any rustling may rouse the senses of enemy goons. its now expedient that he lay low to the ground and make his ascension as speedily as possible without being noticed. he breathes heavily, suppressing the sound as much as possible. in a few more moments he makes the summit.

Now to the red Toyota Pickup, where a cooler awaits, stuffed with Shasta root beer and strawberry soda. content now, he rejoins mom, dad and the rest of the clan. in the shade beside the gravel road. the one that winds up the back of the mountain, past the path to the bass pond, and on up to the gas well where ends abruptly. He has been here a thousand times, and it never gets old. this is Windy Long-Way-To-Fall.

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