Sunday, July 14, 2019

a tea house in the sky

To the Plain of Six Glaciers
above Lake Louise, Banff National Park

4:15, the alarm wakes us up,
5:15, we drive north,
6:15 we park at Lake Louise,
and we open ourselves unto glory:
a glacial lake so purely turquoise
it shouts and defies description,
hemmed-in by great mountains to its right and left,
and fed by even greater mountains 
who rise up into the clouds at its back,
up there they continue to hold six glaciers
who still endure, but diminish,
as climate changes inexorably,

the lake is flat, reflecting and joining the majesty above it,
releasing a visible beauty that draws the soul to find its way here,

our aging bodies still fit enough to skirt the lake

and hard hike up along the cascading meltwater,
sea-green and translucent with its infusion of glacier-ground mountain,

up the slope drizzle is released 
by the effrontery of upthrust mountains,
and a rainbow appears before us!
touching down into the valley into which we climb
and arcing up toward the heights to which we aspire,

the sun slips between the clouds at our back,
and the mist releases the color usually hidden in sunlight,
the rainbow puts a spring in our step,
and pulls picture after picture from our camera,

where the mountain gentles some to allow life to hold enough
for trees to root, and endure,
the trail slips along as if all is ancient and right,
to me it feels of Tolkien’s Middle Earth,
the trail also has to hug the lichened rock where slope is steep,
and scamper over the impermanence of talus,

we love the pale yellow columbine that graces the sunny slopes,

along with paint brush, asters, arnica, and cleanly blue forget-me-nots,

above, just below the head of the valley, six glaciers still hang,
all dirty white, fragments of the great ice mother
who carved and filled these valleys,

there a rustic tea house sits within a rich spruce forest,
and serves up tea and soup and sandwich and cake
without electricity and easy deliveries of goods,

a short hike up the valley opens into a high world
where the near vertical rises up before and falls below,
a reminder that before life was here,
ice and rock ruled together,
today clouds hang upon the mountain,
and a drizzle returns again and again,
drifting cloud holds the view together,
occasionally lightened by optimistic beams of sun,

it’s high summer here,
and the flowers rush to own the day,
before cold and snow return 
to remember the millennia upon millennia
when ice shaped the mountains,
after the Earth thrust these rough giants into the sky.

by Henry H. Walker
July 11, ‘19

Joan uses her walking stick to show where the trail leads.
Look at the tip of the stick to see where we hike.

Looking back down from where Joan points.

The same view as above, but with the telephoto lens.

The world, just below the tea house.

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