Fathers' Footsteps 

 

On a crystal Sierra day, we climb, through sage and scattered pines, our trail crossing an ancient moraine flanked by snow-crowned iron red and steel mountains. August ice gleams, defiant, from frigid strongholds, silently striving for September but, like your silver hair, thinning with the passage of time. Our throats feel as dry as the alpine air until we discover cold tears of glacial surrender coursing through a crease in the rocky terrain: a tumbling stream punctuated by dappled jewel ponds. We drink deeply then, accompanied by the music of the riffles and children’s laughter, meander further up the beckoning valley. Growing feet scamper ahead, rushing, with an occasional noisy stumble, like the restless waters beside us. Their young keepers pause, breathing deeply, until exuberance overcomes inertia and they gallop onward again. 

We follow and talk of memories and dreams as our eyes take in all that surrounds us. Words, drifting on the breeze, are subtly transformed, occasionally unheard or misconstrued, reminding me of years we spent traveling other paths, more difficult paths you and I viewed from different perspectives. With vision distorted by youth’s arrogance, I often rejected your gentle wisdom. Yet, as I ran, imagining I was free, I could hear your steady , assured footsteps beside me. And though I wouldn’t admit it, I understood even then: your presence eased my way, as I found my way

Emerging into a clearing, we rest. Our backs find soft comfort on spongy earth while the world turns and the wind blows. The sun drifts toward its daily rendezvous with the horizon, its light dancing across a mid-summer meadow dressed in tousled green and gold grasses. We lie in silence as ice relents to summer’s fire, the water flows and eternity’s monument, the great Sierra Nevada, erodes into dust,  soon to be washed into the embrace of patient emerald lakes where it will settle in stillness, underpin a meadow’s birth, nourish fresh grasses and, someday, reveal new footsteps taken stride for stride, together, by fathers and sons.

Dedicated to C.M. "Chuck" Hattersley

Dedicated to C.M. "Chuck" Hattersley