Dreamed 1993/11/10 by Chris Wayan
Winter. I'm hiking alone across a steep, snowy slope, on a trail through fir woods. Now and then, a steep, narrow ravine of pure treeless white--avalanche chutes. I fear them, fear I'll trigger a fatal slide, and die slowly, buried alive.
A silent nightmare, endless and slow, step by step across the snow, waiting for the white rush of death.
I'm gingerly crossing the fourth chute when my worst fear happens: there's a rush and a whoosh and a whoop and down comes a mass of snow, crashing into me. Wait a minute, this snow is warm. And furry...
The next thing I know, a large creature is patting my hands apologetically, saying "Are you all right?" in a squeaky furry voice.
She looks like a white winter ermine, but she's as big as me, with thick soft fur, very fine and long. Her face is more like a fox than a human or ermine: a big-eyed wedge with huge, pointed ears.
Those of you who only dream human-style will just have to trust me: to a shapeshifting dream-shaman like me, this is one cute girl.
We get to talking. She loves to slide down the chutes like an otter, and encourages me to try it.
I admit "I once did it by accident, slid about a thousand feet. It was exciting all right. Terrifying, too, though."
She says "Well, this one leads down to a gentle slope at the foot. I know, I've run it many times. You won't hit any rocks--why not try it?"
"I will if you will."
"Well, of course!"
And so I do. Leap into the chute, and follow her down the path of my deepest fears. A wild rush of a ride, the snow plowing up in mad white wings, like she's some giant arctic tern, and at the bottom we plow into a drift, laughing, and I slam into her this time. I tease her "Are you all riiiight?"
She says "I love winter. So much fun. I miss this in summer."
I muse, "You know, last summer I was here, and I saw kids sliding down these chutes on the soft wet grass in the early morning, on pieces of cardboard, like toboggans. I tried it. You can really go!"
She's intrigued, never heard of that variant. "I will if you will. Let's meet at Midsummer and try it."
"All right. Here, on Midsummer's Day. It's a date."
And not the strangest date I've made.
As I wake, I feel the change in my body. She taught me a second way to walk through danger. There's the human way, or the ermine way. Tiptoeing, in terror of a fall... or dancing down the avalanche.
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