For about a month, the way the jetstream was twisted and curled right over the the Roof of the World, the high country of the pointy lands was a cauldron of storms. When it wasn't precipitating in some form or fashion, vicious winds banshee howled across the peaks and through the valleys. There was fear and loathing it would never be warm again, a typical reaction caused by late-season burnout.
But nothing lasts forever, and, finally, the pattern shifted and storms broke. Warmth did begin to creep back into the high places and the mud began to dry. The omens of the mountain season of sun, which flatlanders would call spring and/or summer started to appear; insects and hummingbirds. Within a few weeks, there will be leaves on the deciduous trees once more.
To celebrate this change in meteorological fortune, I wore shorts and padded around the house barefoot. Sabina and I went on walkabout, taking a few hours to wander the bush, observing the waking world and mine ruins. The scent of green permeated the forests, which is like a tongue kiss from the Divine. There's already a fair amount of runoff. Both of us acquired sunburns, but, along with the good pain one gets after a long walkabout, it's all part of the price to paid, and all things have a price. That's the nature of the deal.
The ski resorts have all but closed for the season. Here, in our Sahel, the railroad has started for the season, and river rafting companies ramp up to start by month's end. As a rule, it seems, those who work at Loveland during the winter, work at either the train or one of the rafting companies during the summer, following pittances the migratory species follow food sources, but perhaps it is one and the same.
And Last Day at Loveland is a big deal. The skiers and boarders party for days after the fact in celebration and mourning of the circumstance. Libations and other forms of intoxicant begin early, early in the day and go far into the small hours. I remember having that sort of alcoholic fortitude once, but it was long ago. Nowadays, such Sid Vicious partying-sans the heroin and horrible murder-invites liver sprain that can last for days.
This year's Last Day had a shade of melancholy to it. Well, at least for Sabina and I; Saint Christopher had Last Day be his last day at the cantina. Our funky little gin joint in our funky little mountain township is closed forever and ever, amen.
There is tragedy to this. Saint Christopher is a good man. I did some catering gigs with him a summer ago. His daughter and mine are quite good friends, and because of that, I got more free drinks than paid ones. There was the time, just a few months before we bought our house, which was Sabina's birthday, where he got us good and drunk and put us up in one of the flops behind the cantina.
"You've had two shots in hour," he said to us that night, whilst pouring another, quite full. "Make that three. I can't let you drive like that."
"You are an evil man," I said, taking a small sip from the glass.
"I don't see you saying 'no'," Saint Christopher observed.
"Sir, there are children in third-world countries that go to bed every night sober," I said, finishing my shot. "Children! I must think of the children."
Even though he had his local regulars, there was not enough off-the-Road tourist traffic to make a profit. Catering gigs could help during the summer, but those have been getting fewer and fewer, which is too bad, because he's an amazing chef. There were nights we'd sit around trying to figure out ways to get more business, but to no avail.
Sabina and I walked into the cantina on Last Day, feeling the heat of our respective sunburns to a crowd of drunken snowbums, the smell of marijuana, and a jam band rattling the windows with their pseudo-Grateful Dead stylings. Almost immediately, my misanthropy kicked into high gear, and the murder thoughts started. The fact there was barely any beer left was salt in the metaphoric wound.
I only spoke to Saint Christopher briefly. We both agreed our daughters would keep in touch, and he threatened to swing by the House of Owls and Bats for cocktails and dinner some night. At one point, I observed him from a distance whipping away tears and stepping into his kitchen as the the crowd hooped and hollered in celebration and mourning of Last Day. There is something heartrending about seeing a saint, however flawed, beginning to cry.
We only stayed for a two rounds. My growing aversion to crowds and decided lack of decent beer not withstanding, I did had obligations the next day, and I did not want to contemplate those through the haze of a sprained liver. Otherwise, it may very well have turned into one those kind of nights, in which Saint Christopher would be feeding me whiskey and I'd be stumbling home.
When we have libations, Sabina and I start with a toast. Trivial or profound, it's our custom. As we got our first beers, reflecting upon Last Day and day we'd had out in the bush, seeing the omens of sun, I raised my bottle.
"To endings and beginnings," I said, because there was nothing else to say.