Moscow Mountain, Idaho
Spring in the wilds is a transporting venom, a fresh, piney poison of adventure and dreams. When I sniff the spring air, the Mountain captains my thoughts like it rules the Palouse hills from its regal throne. The gradual slope to its rounded cap, precariously spread with winding gravel ribbons, is white even in mid-May. The rain unwinds our plans, but Spring, the world’s most ardent pusher, pines to fill our veins with her fix.
We succumb. The pastures on the foothills are flying Spring’s brilliant green ensign. The grassy fringe of this fenced and patchworky flag sparkles in the wet breeze. The heraldic seal of this season is horses rampant on a verdant shield. We stop to make friends with the feudal equines on our way up the peak. A pompous roan and a drab mule vie for our affections and other-side grass, proffered to secure a muzzle-pet and ear-scratch. God’s horses are content today, despite the rain and the puddles, because their grass is young and inexhaustible.
Farther up the road, the snow is piling up. It is wet, heavy, tired, and dirty, waiting exhaustedly for the sun to rapture it up and fling it on some foreign land in transfigured form.
The Jeep can cope with this easily, and the ruts. But something keeps us from continuing up. This is a treaded path. We have been here many times, we four. In August, when the horses were fly-angered and dust-smothered, we began to come here, and we continued until the snow locked up the roads. We turn around now with those memories fresh in our minds. Memories of campfires and songs at the summit, and rocky climbs below—a sleeting day is not the place to repeat them.
More than that, these haunts were ours in an earlier time. We have grown much since then. As the mountain fermented Spring beneath its snowy casket, much happened in the lives of those who lived lower. Love and hate, distilled to various degrees, swirled in our interactions. We learned the meanings of new words, the significance of new people, the puzzle-paths of new concepts. Zach, Tali, Wilson, and I are different than we were in August. Not transformed, but different.
In August, we were freshmen. Now, our minds have been stretched to the rigors of Augustine and Calvin, the wordplay of Nietzsche and Chesterton. We have fought good fights and finished good papers. Moscow Mountain was our haunt during the trials of the first year, it is forever redolent of them. Now, during the ending of the year, we quest farther afield, exploring Spring’s new kingdom in greenswards and fresh forests and tilled Earth.
Up Next: Idylls, Part 2: Kamiak Butte