Mountain life (An excerpt from Radiance)

A short excerpt from Radiance: An Essay for Unsettled Time. The book is in progress.


Out the window, snow begins falling on sienna; it is collecting fast. Until now, it has rained warmly three days straight and the ravines, dug out and meandering down the mountainside, had been rolling with sound, the green beneath the coursing water the color of parsley moss.

The storm’s power does not go unnoticed. I think, whether we voice it or not, that we recognize the sublime force in the whiteness and our own fragility besides. The fogged windows reveal a parlous path leading down onto the main road. Lost electricity would undo the promise of a quiet evening, replacing it with deliberations and concerted plans. In the morning before the dawn breaks, we meditate on death. She relates that she came to the mountains to learn how to die. Death’s ever-nearness puts my life to the question, requiring me to be answerable for it, to live in such a way that a perceptive observer might say that my life, having been touched by radiance, had not been spent in vain.

Amid the evening snowfall, a bird sings, then passes, and I feel at home with her.