Sunday, July 01, 2007
mojitos and men on mountaintops
photo of the Keyhole on Longs Peak, from wikipedia, taken by J. Benjamin Wildeboer
In some circles, I'm known as Martha, after Martha Stewart, for my cooking craft, and in other circles I'm known for making a mean mojito. One relative-of-a-relative actually calls me Mojito Martha. Last night I made the first mojitos of the summer with some gorgeous, fragrant mint from the farmer's market...this time I actually went to the little trouble of making a mint syrup, but you can just as easily muddle the mint and sugar in the bottom of a glass. Add a shot of golden rum, juice of one lime, ice cubes, and top off with club soda for a refreshing, painless drink. Painless until you realize you've downed two of them and these days one drink is enough to provoke tipsy laughter and true confessions. Have another drink and who knows what might happen...
So I've placed Sam, my RN hero, on a mountaintop. Cliche? Perhaps. But I realized I needed something BIG to provoke his romantic "come to Jesus" moment. Losing his job didn't do the trick, neither had moving back to his hometown. I drew on my own experience climbing Longs Peak, a "fourteener" in Rocky Mountain NP, for Sam's big moment.
Long's Peak can be climbed non-technically--that is, without ropes, harnesses, all of the trappings of "real" rock climbing. In 2001, I spent about six weeks working at Shadowcliff lodge in Grand Lake, CO, and planned a climb with my co-workers. In typical dharmagirl fashion, I read everything I could about the climb, and prepared physically and mentally. The books made the climb sound challenging but not difficult (if that contradiction even makes sense). In reality, the climb was grueling, a 14 hour event that saw several missteps, including losing my footing on a particularly steep portion of the climb, just yards away from the summit. Thank goodness for my friend N, the British bloke who pushed me back up and kept me from sliding into a rocky abyss. This climb was transformative--a testament to my resilience in the face of challenges, and a certain tenacity that isn't always apparent when I feel muddled with insecurity and uncertainty.
So what better experience to give to Sam, who needs something larger than life, larger than himself to propel him back to Lily? I have him stop his climb at the Keyhole, a definitive moment that all the guidebooks say is where most people who fail to summit turn around, as the immensity of the mountain becomes apparent. You have to step through a keyhole shaped opening in the rock to a narrow ledge on the other side to wind up closer to the summit. And this is all at 6.2 miles into the 8 mile hike to the summit...turning around when you're that close takes a certain emotional truth that I want Sam to realize and to redirect.