Friday, September 23, 2005

The Snows

Mussoorie is actually only in the foothills of the Himalayas, a fact I frequently forget as I’m huffing, puffing, and stumbling up the mountain. North of us are the “real” Himalayas, “The Snows.” They’re quite a ways off, with any number of foothill ridges between us and them, and during monsoon, you can’t see them very often because of all the fog and low-hanging clouds. But every now and again they break free. And it is spectacular.

One such appearance happened last week. I was sitting in the common room, reading a book when my housemate came charging into the room and gleefully announced “grab your shoes, we’ve gotta go to the roof—The Snows are out!” So I dutifully extricated myself from my cozy bundle of blankets and scrambled up a rickety ladder and across the sloping, corrugated tin roof (yikes!!!). And there they were, just beyond the tree line. A line of ragged, snow-topped peaks. The Snows. It was just about sunset and the light was hitting the catching the snow and turning it pink. Wow.

Just a few days later, I was walking home at night and glanced north across the valley toward the Snows, not really expecting much. But I’d forgotten it was a full moon and they were out again. There was cloud cover in the valley and the peaks rose up out of it, looking for all the world like islands at sea.

Maybe people who’ve lived in the mountains in the States would be less impressed by the sight of the Snows, but for one coming from the ever-so-flat Midwest, they’re magic.