Stack of orange cones over my shoulder, and I walk across the parking lot. This morning isn’t much different than any other morning up here, but from corner of my eye as I am placing a cone I see something. Not something like a certain thing, but just something enough to make me set down the stack of cones and walk to the edge of the lot.
At the edge, the lot drops maybe seventy feet to a one-lane road, which drops a few hundred feet more into a valley. The valley spreads into a seemingly endless expanse sprawling from north to south, broken by ridges and peaks that can only have endless ridges and valleys on the other sides just out of sight. In the distance I see little specks of protruding rock that from here are thirty or so miles away. I can only imagine standing below them, and noticing how different their similarities must look.
I feel a sudden cold chill. It’s as cold as any winter morning up here so far. Somehow though it seems like more than just a cold chill.
The sun will be visible at some point in the morning, and I will see it wink and peek up over the range in the distance. For now I only can only vaguely tell the area that the sun will come up in, hinted to me by the shadows of pink and purple reflecting off of the white snow on the mountain face behind me.
I feel a tap on my shoulder, and deep down I know it’s not a tap, but a gentle brush of wind across my cheek. Behind me I hear a whisper, and I know it’s only the voice of the hand that tapped me on the shoulder. There is no urgency to turn and find out where the whisper came from, and in fact not need at all. I only listen, and look out, and see the clouds floating in the valley bellow. “Douglasyou are alive,” is the only thing I hear. Maybe for the first time, or maybe not, I know it is true.
So I pick up the cones and drop them one by one in a line. When I am out of cones I walk back towards the mouth of the lot and notice my friend standing, looking up at the peak, stack of cones over his shoulder. Even from behind I can tell he is smiling.
Putting another stack of cones over my shoulder I walk back to the parking lot. My radio crackles through the cold mountain air….”Doug, bring some cones to the south end of the lot.”