Sunday Morning In Highwood Hills

Trudging through deep snow covered with microscopic

crystalline flecks of ice tinged with a bluish glare,

the sound of my L.L. Bean boots crunching the snow

triggered a flashback, -  a hike my brother and I took at Christmas.

Two teens from Queens rode the IRT to the G.W. Bridge

which glittered before day-break, a twinkling giant brassiere.

Hitch-hiked to the Shawagunks trail wearing surplus

white paratrooper ski parkas and carrying arctic-down sleeping bags

designed for forty below zero in our knapsacks.

We slogged along in three feet of snow heading for the pinnacle

of Bear Mountain . Plunging knee-deep, tremulous, drenched in

sweat, I was soon as exhausted as the soldier carrying

the “fuggin” anti-tank bazooka in “The Naked And The Dead”.

Pleading for a rest, my brother, who became Admiral Byrd

racing to the North Pole, commanded: “You must go on!”

I responded: “But I can’t go on!” (sounding like characters in a Beckett drama) 

He told me that falling asleep in the snow would result

in certain death, finally bribing me to move on with the promise of

half a can of his Prince Albert tobacco and the use of his corn-cob pipe.

My brother, the Eagle Scout, snared a jack-rabbit, we

cooked a pot of Hunter’s Stew, toasted marshmallows

and sang rounds of: “Oh how lovely is the evening.”

The night sky was alive, hemorrhaging shooting stars like

the pyrotechnical display over the London sky during the Blitz.

We saw the Dippers, Orion’s Belt and the Milky Way,   

falling  asleep under the coruscating light of the North Star.

I dreamt of lying in the midst of a Lenape Indian war dance.

Awakened at dawn by a herd of deer stomping their feet

and nuzzling my frozen nose, clouds of vapor escaping from

their nostrils, an ethereal scene  which made me

wonder if I was still lost in a dream.

Milton P. Ehrlich