Sometimes you miss it—life—when you’re moving too fast. At least this is what I’ve been thinking about the past few nights as I’ve been walking home through a dark and snowy forest here in the French Alps. After the Utah trip, I had a whirlwind few days in Boulder unpacking and repacking. And then I landed here in Chamonix, France, where minutes seem like hours, months like days. The streets have been too snowy for my bike, so I walk. After working in town until dark, I walk through a deserted centre ville decorated with Christmas lights.
It’s quiet. Early season. And the town seems to hold its breath. The crowds will rush here this weekend when they get word that knee-deep powder now covers the slopes. I walk. Deserted side streets. The chapel, glowing orange. Unlit restaurants and hotels and bars.
I turn off of the main road and follow a path all the way back to Les Tines, where I’m staying with a friend. The glow of my headlamp hits the snow, and I hear the murmuring of a glacial stream. Smell the sapins. I walk. It gets darker as I go deeper into the forest, and I hear a rustling sound to my left, turn my headlamp and see four pairs of frozen eyes. They glow back at me, blue-green. Deer. I am afraid because I heard that someone up valley ran into a wild boar. Killed it with a car. Wild boar in these woods, too.
It’s almost an hour later when I arrive at my friend’s house. I feel as though I have walked through worlds. A fire crackles. The hearth is warm. I shake the snow off of my shoulders and leave my boots at the door.