Frost, Snow, River, Mountains

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We just got home after hiking to the summit of North Twin Mountain today.  The trees on the horizon are black against the last light in the sky, the sun long gone below the horizon.  And it’s only 7:33.  More darkness coming.

But it was glorious in the mountains today.  The Little River was running hard and clear over its bed of boulders, a color without color, the cleanest sheen of light green imaginable.  I’ve written about this river before (poem below), the last time I hiked North Twin, when I was bagging the 4,000 footers.  Today two of our friends on the hike bagged the peak for the first time.  Once you finish your own list, there are always friends to accompany as they work on theirs.

The views were perfect — the full Presidential Range strung out from a ledge on the northeast side of the ridge, then the Franconia Ridge stretching south from our lunch spot on the western facing ledge.  But the close views were beautiful too.

Last night was the first frost of the season, and once we got above 4,000 feet, we saw our first snow.  Clumps of ice were falling out of the spruce trees and collecting in heaps of white on the green moss, already speckled with snow.   But the sun was warm on the ledge, and on us, as we ate, and talked, trees across from us still holding glints of ice.

The Little River

There must be a story to a river
so wrongly named, so wildly big
in its crash of water and rock falling

from a fold of mountains, tricky
with its slick stones and ice needles thrust
over shallows like webs. We cross as if

stepping on the chest of a sleeping beast.
We find an old campsite, logs circling
a cold fire ring beside a green pool.

We listen as we make up stories, listen
to the confluence of gravity and water, wonder
how big is cruel enough not to be little.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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