A Room with a Wiew

Sitting at the reception of a small firm, there are days I can hardly breathe, as I start to realize how deskbound my life has become. Wide windows and posters from the calendar of a Swiss supplier can’t make up for the time I could have spent in the outdoors. Dusty smell from the curtains and carpets, stench from the toilet I refuse to clean. I need fresh air. I’d rather be at the Padon Pass.

As I drift away in a daydream, these olfactory feelings are replaced by the smell of burnt brakes from the cars coming to hurriedly down the switchback. I drive on, and a long straight road leads me to the chair lift lower station. From here, the slopes look soft and inviting, covered in bright emerald.

I take a seat. Marmots peep out their holes down on the ground underneath  my boots. The breeze on my face gradually becomes cooler as I approach the landing point.

Once on top, the green velvet reveals itself for what it really is: prongs of dry, spiky grass, too hard to sit down, too uneven to lay a blanket on, it pierces through the fabric.  There is no comfortable place for a nap or a picnic. In spite of the wind, the sun burns because of the altitude and the absence of trees. Plus, goats want my sandwich. So do crows. they are shrieking and look aggressive. No, not realy aggressive – intrusive. They’re everywhere, like a pest. I like the contrast of those black feathers with the blue sky.

Still, it’s great to be here: it takes away your breath. Right in front of me, the Marmolada in all its glory fills the background, the perennial snow of its glacier glitters, even in my recollection, more vivid than a picture, less imperfect than reality. It looks near, as if I could touch it: it’s not. An eagle flying in the enormous empty space between this peak and the other gives me a sense of depth.

I want to climb further up to the crest of the Mesola. The top looks near, but it’s actually a long way. The rocks at the base of the big bump looks like fallen teeth in the distance. As I get closer to the bottom, it becomes steeper and more rugged and I have to find my balance like a chamois. Rocks are patchy with moss and lichen. It makes me want to crunch them.  I try to imagine the taste. Mineral salts. Nutritious substance. Edelweiss grow in the cracks, beside other tiny flowers of varied colours and succulent plants. The higher the altitude, the smaller the plants. The giant and the microscopic.

Halfway to the top there is a hut. Red and brown, essential inside. The outside is what matters: landscape, and history. A war has been fought here. There’s a tunnel beside it, I enter the cave, the dark and humid trenches. If I was more reckless, I would join the climbers down the iron steps of the via ferrata. Instead, I get out and head to the summit. On top, I can see the other side. More mountains. Corrugated ridges, as far as the eye can see. Some are green, others are bare. Deep down lies a valley, cows are little white dots. I’m mesmerized by the very big and the very small.

This post is a response to Writing 101, Day Two: A Room with a View (Or Just a View)


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