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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Wintering at Vail

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

I was snuggled in a red wool blanket on an outdoor bench when Nils sent his text. A link to a song called Springtime. I tucked the speaker end of my iPhone under my stocking cap, hoping to listen discretely. Vail skiers coming and going from the bougie rental nearby. I’d been reading a book, ironically, named Wintering. A “thriller” according the book jacket, a detail I’d missed when I’d bought the novel, secondhand. It was and it wasn’t.

I was already on the verge of weepy when Nils’ text came. Reading a particularly poignant chapter, well-written, and steeped in grace. And then this music—

We will sing a new song 'Cause dead is dead and gone with the winter

The book I’m reading is about a father and son, snowbound and somewhat lost in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. My own son, Luke, and his father are snowboarding several chairlifts up the mountain—along with Ali. I’d looked right into my boy’s eyes, told him not to let his dad do anything stupid. My husband seemed offended when I’d said it, until I’d reminded him my concern is based on history, something he couldn’t deny.

I enjoy slow skiing. I explained this later to Ali’s parents, my husband feeling compelled to emphasize. “Real slow.” Certainly not worth the hefty price tag of a Colorado resort. I’m more than happy to spend my cash on a good coffee, sipped leisurely in mountain sunshine.

Before I found my bench, I’d been walking the streets of Vail, people-watching. Maybe it’s one of the nice benefits of aging—although I’d rather give Jesus the credit—I’ve gotten so tender when it comes to people. I can’t help but look straight into the eyes, hoping to exchange a bit of love in a glance. Sometimes you can feel the connection, no words, just something warm and human.

I’m feeling a bit tender, too, because of my mom. The day before, just leaving for the airport, I’d received this call. From my sister. “Mom’s at the hospital. It looks like she might have had a stroke.” My mom. Our healthiest parent by a mile. Later a doctor would commend her for remarkable health at 75. Remarkable to be sure. I’m in the mountains getting updates. A stroke, yes, but minor. Overnight in the hospital, and twenty-four hours later she’s at Costco and Aldi, doing a little shopping on her way back home.

So here I am. Tender heart, warm coffee, cozy blanket, a good book. When my cellphone chirps and I get this message. This Springtime song, and it’s still winter here in the mountains, but the sun is shining like a promise.

We will sing a new song 'Cause dead is dead and gone with the winter We will sing a new song Let "Hallelujah's" flow like a river We're coming back to life Reaching toward the light Your love is like springtime

Springtime recorded by Chris Renzema

Wintering by Peter Geye

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