I’m by myself in the winter aspens.  I’ve never felt less alone.

I take off my glove and press my bare hand against a silvery trunk, eager to touch, to see, to feel with my fingers what vibrates in every cell of my being when I find myself pulling out of a waist-deep powder turn because I am even more enthralled by the trees I am skiing through.

Their pull on me is irresistible and intense, a seduction I felt all the way from Oregon.  Now that I am back in these winter aspens ~my habitat, my home, my tribe~ it’s as if I can hear them whisper and giggle, as giddy about this homecoming as I am.

When I lift my hand, my palm is dusted with the soft white powder of their bark. My thumb moves between my brows and even though I’m now more of a Mardi Gras pagan than an Ash Wednesday church goer, I integrate the two as I smudge a small cross over my third eye.

I hear the mumbled chant of my Inner Catholic girl youth.

Ashes to ashes.

My index finger drops to my lips. 

Dust to dust.

I trace the curve of my smile with the aspen dust, completing my anointment, my own sacred tribute to life, death and every precious breath in between.

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