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#9 - Boys Return

“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.” - Immanuel Kant. 

Shiva, (Ikumi’s), first reaction upon returning to Vancouver and Sunshine Valley was to rename it: “Green Destiny”, such was the impact of natural colour after years of living amidst grey concrete. The boys soon learned how to wield an axe and chop wood. 

They fell every fifty meters for five kilometres. Towed behind a snowmobile on snowboards. Up, deep along the Narrow Road to the Deep North. When we finally put on snowshoes, the boys already had burning legs, heavy lungs and sweating brows. On we pressed for a further several kilometres, into the remote parts of the cirque at the foot of the pyramidal mountain surrounded on all sides by a glorious vista. Snow fell lightly and crunched underfoot. 

Nature embraced us. Ikumi, now thirteen, remarked, as much to himself as much as to anyone who might be listening, in a moment of existential realization, “…this is living!”. The valley depths beckoned us further, but our turnaround hour was upon us. At the confluence of the Skagit and Small orivers, Silvertip and Rideout mountain rise 2000 meters above the valley floor in the near distance, promising otherworldly experience just another hour or so beyond. But we had to return or would not get back before nightfall. Shiva, the destroyer, found ice formations as swords and snow drifts to fight imaginary opponents, as though from a Shakespearean play. The elder brother, Iori, now fifteen, feeling inspired, remarked that he could hear Satie - Gymnopedie No. 1 (a favourite that Shiva had taught himself to play on piano) playing its soft melodic lines in sync with the falling snow. 

We returned in darkness, the sky holding a soft backlight of sparkling stars, encased by the darkness of the mountains on either side, the sound of the Sumallo river running along our path as we trudged toward the warmth and comfort we knew awaited our return. Along the way, a full moon rose to illuminate our path. 

The creative younger brother followed me up the road one day and sat in quiet contemplation next to me as we watched the waterfall. He reached out and silently put a hand on my arm. Some time had passed without him saying anything, but I knew, and he confirmed my suspicion that he was “seeing my life, as it has unfolded to this point…”

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