This morning Aki and I ski along Montana Creek through shadows pierced by random shafts of sunlight; silence shattered by rifle shots. At the start, the little dog handles the patterned blasts better than I, her attention distracted by a group of young women skiing with a oversized Labrador. Aki has alway found solace in the arms of my daughter’s friends. Thinking it is the kind thing to do, I push past the ladies to put some distance between us and the outdoor range that shares a cul-de-sac with the trail head. She hangs back, waiting for her new girl gang to catch up. They manage it two kilos up the trail, while I try to capture the now silent river on a media card.
Skiing along the bottom of a steep sided valley means skiing in shadow occasionally brightened by sunlit snow on bare branches and the now frozen over river. When the tall stream side trees allow it, mountain peaks appear in full sun like a Puritan’s city on the hill. My old digital won’t give fair play to the darks and lights of this mottled scene. It either washes our the lights or reduces the shadows to black spaces. Aki tires of my snapping routine—stop, ogle, plant the poles, slip off the mittens, pull the camera from under my jacket, point, focus, click, and repeat in reverse. She dreams of running with the women and their big happy dog, hoping that their spirited chatter will block the sound of gun fire.