i.m. Ronald J. Friedman
- We do.
- His paintings lean against the skirting board. I hold
one up: mountain ash forest along the road to Gliss. My
aunt nods. As the snow melts three hours away, I half
joke to my partner: I miss those trees so much I’d name
our unborn child after them.
- My sister and I try to fit in one more run as the
sun slides beyond the ridge, but ski patrol wave us off.
Home-time, girls. We nod and shrug, swishing through
the gums back to the lodge.
- We stand on ourtoes to grab icicles from the roof,
eating them like icy-poles, warned of falling snowdrifts
by our mother who used to grab icicles from the same
gabled roof with her sister, receiving the same warning.
- At the dinner table, beneath bright orange
light shades, my pudgy baby hands grab my grandpa’s
moustache. He laughs, cheeks red from the glare of
sunny snowfields; muscles and mind abuzz as always.
- Kerosene lamps are lit on arrival, briquettes set
burning. Woollen gloves are hung to dry. The water pipes
are frozen and sleeping bags have been chewed through
by rats, but there’s food at least, if the crows don’t get
to it first.
- Come on, he says to my mother, aged seven. She
peers over the edge of the powder-covered almost-
cliff, watching her father speed down the slope. After a
pause, she takes a deep breath, and follows.
- It’s summer. Trees are cleared.Snakes slide into
sleeping bags. The engineers build a lodge: triple bunks,
noses almost touching the roof. They call it Gliss because
the word sounded cold and, my grandpa says, it’s as
good a name as any.
- The engineers have a solid plan and some dubious
paperwork, with a permit with map attached. The site is
on a ridge overlooking eucalypt forest, rich green and
sparkling white towards the horizon.
- From the city: a train and bus, then the six-hour
ascent walking through night and sleet, wooden skis in
hand, leather boots crunching. Crashing, exhausted onto
- A young engineer sees an article about a new road
built to the fledgling village on the top of Mount Buller.
Look at this, he says, holding up the newspaper to some
friends at the factory. Let’s go.