“F” is for “Forward”
Another installment in the ABC’s of Explore series.
The student behind me released a long sigh as he fell into yet another tree well. He was on his back, laying on his backpack, like an overturned turtle with a too-heavy shell. He was still and watched as snowflakes casually drifted onto his eyelashes. His legs and skies were twisted up into something resembling a gymnastics move.
The rest of the team was quiet. The path behind us littered with craters where we had fallen into deep and unsupportive snow. Over and over we had to take off our packs, struggle to stand up, unwind our legs, shake the snow out of our jackets, put on our packs and shuffle forward. The first few times we fell, everyone laughed. The last few times it happened we used the opportunity to lean on our ski poles for a rest.
Another student came over and pulled the fallen student to his feet and helped him balance while he put his legs and skies into the correct positions. Then with a heave, the over-packed backpack was hoisted to the student’s shoulders. He shook off the snow, picked up his poles and stepped forward again.
The snow was wispy around my knees as I broke trail. I carefully avoided the small trees and logs that created the hollow places where the snow would break and bury us to the hip or knock us off our feet. The way ahead was crowded with trillions of tiny crystals, each nestled into his spot, listening to our approach, and plotting.
The trees shooting up out of the snow were sooty from a previous fire, with blistered bark cracked into scaly rectangles. They were Times New Roman, starkly silhouetted against the fragile white page of my Bible. We crawled through Romans 5, dodging commas, falling into the crook of the letter “g.” I broke trail straight over “perseverance,” not realizing that a log was under the letter “v.” A student promptly sank up to her hips. We helped her up, then worked across the hill toward the “character” that perseverance promised us. A gust of wind blew gleeful ice crystals into our faces and tugged at our jackets. Even the trees shivered. No matter. We lowered our heads and moved forward, toward “hope.”
Hannah M. Landon
When out on winter backcountry trips Hannah sticks her breakfast in her sleeping bag before going to bed, 1) so that it does not freeze and, 2) so that she can enjoy the luxury of breakfast in bed the next morning.