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It seldom snowed – Part IV

It seldom snowed they said,
Perhaps they’re right
Although seldom was never
In that endless summer
Which tightened a fiery grip by day,
Baking the plateau,
Relentlessly melting its snow.
It began as a cliché
On a slow day
In a new January
Of stupid heat
That penetrated the heart,
Enslaving energies replete
With blinding lassitude,
Defeating even the more able.
Over a beer shared in the Mess
We agreed to climb Mount Ruapehu.
The snowline had retreated enough
For a leisurely stroll
From the skiers upper car park
To Crater Lake,
We’d take a picnic lunch,
Snap some great pictures,
Be home for tea.
I had never climbed the volcano before
But it sounded okay to me,
Representing no more
Than a brisk morning’s walk.
I had heard the talk
Of its moods,
How out of the placid blue
A shift in weather
Could strand climbers,
I had seen the same phenomenon
From a safe distance
And I believed it true
But things had been stable for weeks.
When I reached the peak
Clad only in running shorts,
A T shirt and combat boots
I was in awe of the view,
It was worth every risk –
Not that there were any,
And to stand in brisk air
On top of this part of New Zealand,
On the pinnacle,
With two properly dressed
Climbers roped together,
Ice-axed and slack-jawed
Gazing at me bewildered,
Was an inspiration.
We exchanged greetings
And I left on my bum,
There was no other way down.
When my friends joined me
At the rim of Crater Lake
And we had shared
Snow-chilled Liebfraumilch,
Chicken and fresh, crusty rolls,
They asked if
My skinned buttocks hurt.
Not when sitting in snow
On top of Ruapehu
With my friends
I said, but tonight,
It might be a different matter.

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Poem It seldom snowed – Part IV - Ivan Donn Carswell