Hollyburn Ridge cabin circa 1933 (Ken Garland Collection)
Below the heights of Hollyburn, where flurries fade to sleet or rain,
Old affairs with falling snow are rousing mem'ries once again.
For the kiss of just a single flake charms every skier's heart,
Knowing cloud-rapt summits reappear as shining works of art.
Then it's time to contemplate scenes of higher ground,
Where hushed, haunting, snowy bowls lay waiting to be found.
Through swirling veils of aery stars the Nordic faithful glide,
To a mountain lodge whose welcome lights invite them to abide.
Mere steps away a hidden lake affirms hibernal cold,
Dormant under fleecy quilts enchanting to behold.
Around it, ghostly guardians lean to winter's will;
Each storm-battered trunk rooted resolutely still.
How blissful falling snow feels when skiis are well aligned.
Striding over winding routes on tracks all intertwined.
How bracing every rhythmic breath upon a quiet trail;
How ephemeral sensations bestowed by this travail.
Up here the sweep of soundlessness is easy to discern:
A still, sequestered silence all forest dwellers yearn.
As ramblers of a ridge traverse ever-deepening snow,
Under ashen skies, forest-scapes lie motionless below.
Evergreens, their boughs stooped in stately conformation,
Hold dense, white, clinging clumps of fresh precipitation.
In primal stands of conifers bent low by lobes of snow,
Lie sturdy mountain hideaways, their lambent lights aglow.
There stacks of dry wood dwindle as crackling fires blaze,
Imparting cheer and comfort midst winter's chilling haze.
Other cabins stand bereft upon this stormy night,
Cloaked in nature's camouflage of elemental white.
On nearby trails hikers trudge whisper-quiet routes,
Their passage forming imprints of stout mountain boots.
Each footfall tracing faint tracks through heavy, drifting snow:
Lamp lights gaily darting, as through the woods they go.
From yonder lair gleaming lanterns easily beguile,
Enticing burdened passers-by to linger for a while.
Midst varnished log surroundings bide contented cabineers,
Whose homey habitation has weathered many years.
Where trails twine 'long bleak pathways, shrouded cabins wait;
As journeys' end from darkness looms, weary hearts elate.
Let light banish melancholy; fire perish cold and damp:
And tradition set the ways of each humble mountain camp.
Now, a nip or two and kindled stoves stave off drafty air,
While the scent of wafting wood smoke lingers everywhere.
With lamps aglow and packs aside, folks revel in the rambler's life,
Agreeably absented from Vancouver's hectic strife.
Then through the woods come neighbours bearing copious libations,
Inviting folks to congregate in festive celebrations.
The welcome flump of heavy boots on worn, uneven floors,
Reassures each cheerful soul camaraderie endures.
As hanging lanterns burnish beams within each forest keep,
Their glow gilds window panes where hoary fingers creep.
Though artifacts of eras past, their radiance delights,
Fuelling warm-hearted merriment on frosty winter nights.
Thus moments once thought lost are found upon a mountainside:
As old companions search the past where memories reside.
To cite those acts of folly every chronicler avers,
Whose heart remains in pensive thrall to joyful yesteryears.
Where mesmerizing moonlight skirts deep, amorphous gloom,
Under bent, brooding evergreens, snow-draped cabins loom.
While quiescent treetops nod beneath far-flung constellations,
Inhabitants find wondrousness in closer scintillations.
As the orb of night shines softly upon coruscated eves,
In the rippled sheen of icicles, fascination weaves.
For atop this mountain ridge exists a mystic world of white;
A luminescent forest-scape imparting pure delight.
So, wherever life may lead, no matter what the reasons,
Thoughts of Hollyburn will last, as long as there are seasons:
And this height of land's seductive spell shall grip and ever hold,
Seekers of a snowy realm who favour winter cold.
Mildew Manor 1983 (Les Finta Collection)
Mildew Manor circa 1962, John Paonessa 2nd left in centre photo (A.G.M.F. Collection)
This poem is dedicated to the memory of a dear friend, John Paonessa (1946-2015),
a member of our cabineering cohort: the boys of "Mildew Manor" (#214).
A. G. M. F. (2016)