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Amber Paulen

Mountain Watching

For the last five days Mont Blanc has dominated my skyline. Below it rolls the Alps with its pine trees and valleys that cusp me and the villages huddled around picturesque steeples. Brown chalets stagger up mountain sides to mountain tops. I’m sitting outside one now, enjoying the view, listening to cow bells ding-ding-ding as the animals eat the sloping lawns. The wide vista is impossibly green. The mountain is white. At sunset it turns purple. There are glaciers that are millions of years old stretching over Mont Blanc like a hand.

We drive through twisting mountain roads to mountain villages to eat French food cooked in butter. We drink rosé in the sun. The French sun tans me darker than its Italian version because I’m closer to it. All is quiet but for the cow bells and the chalet builders and our voices when we drink too much rosé. At night I look through the binoculars for Andromeda above the mountain, and I see it swirling out there like a scratch on the lenses.

I wonder how I would change if I woke every day under this mountain. My cheeks might become rosier, my shoes would have to be hardier, and I would crave the sea. There’s something uneasy about always being below a mountain like this one, a dominating something in it despite the vista. And then there’s the snow in winter that I can’t consider.

But there’s no time to. Tomorrow I fly back to Rome.


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