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.