The dawn did not break, not at first.  It slid in from the east, hushed and muted.  The mountains to the west remained as dramatic as ever, but seemed a mere indistinct, clouded backdrop in comparison to the high hopes for the day.  The Woodworker hit the starter on the coffee maker, negating the automatic 6:45am kick-on.  His internal clock seldom functioned properly when law school beckoned, but it never failed with an epic climb and fine, stalwart companions on the line.  He dripped a thimble full of heavy whupping cream into the too-strong coffee, and stepped outside to survey his well-traveled tomato plant.  The air was chilled, and as still as it ever it gets up on the borderline.  He gazed east, over the lake and towards a rising orange glow.  Finally, suddenly, violently, the dawn broke, shattering the crystal water of the lake into shards of brilliant jagged fire.  Almost time.

The Woodworker stepped back inside the cabin and immediately felt the dry heat of the stove, both comforting and a bit unwelcome. Summer was nearly gone, and had passed too quickly.  The look and smell of coming snow was heavy outside the ancient and cracked windows.  He poured more coffee to warm the dregs left in his Georgia Bulldogs mug.  Soon, the Beekeeper’s Wife would discover its absence and reclaim the old and chipped cup.  It was probably their mother’s, originally.  The Woodworker was not a thief, but he did enjoy things that were perfectly suited for their purpose- most coffee mugs were too big or too small or too thin or too thick or had poor handholds or some other flaw and for some reason the Bulldogs mug seemed just right.  The coffee was good.  He could hear the Schoolteacher beginning to stir in the other bedroom.  She would be on time, excited, and good-natured today, as she always was.  She would not complain.  She would make it to the top.  She would probably bring treats.

The Woodworker checked his gear.  Boots.  Gaiters.  Flannel.  Fleece.  Rain jacket, a gift from his Mother’s best friend.  Snow pants.  Hat.  Gloves. Ice Axe. Two Ropes.  Sandwich, Cheese, Candy, Jerky.  Extra garbage bags for rain covers.  Knife.  Map.  Hydration bladder.  Water bottle.  Camera, the Beekeeper’s Wife’s little one for this trip where balance and being off-balance were factors to weigh against his large telephoto lenses.  He stepped outside, to the red-stained stoop that served as entrance to the cabin and glanced over the route description one more time, despite having memorized it the previous day, and for years.


He looked out towards the west again and soaked in the brilliance of his parents’ purchase, their vision.  He fully expected the summit to be a shocking and incredible experience later in the day, but nothing could ever match the view from his small stoop.  His gaze shifted, as it always did, to Chief.  Five years and one day ago he had perched on its summit, awed.  It was warmer then.  He remembered his brother.  It was definitely warmer, then.

There was movement at the tack barn.  A lone figure pushed open the broad, creaking, somewhat-sliding door.  For the last time, at least for now.  The dawn crept over the rise and revealed the Summer Help, who was much more than that.  He was a Brother, too.  He wasn’t here five years and one day ago, but he also knew of times that were warmer.  The day marked the culmination of a summer’s journey for the Brother, although he did not expect a tidy resolution.  He did not know what to expect.  He would make his own brother proud, know his guiding hand on the slippery, treacherous, rapidly-becoming-snow-covered cliff faces, and share the summit with his envoy, a gliding, diving, watchful golden eagle.  He would feel grief.  He would feel great happiness.  All day, he would feel.  The next day, his knees would do the same.  On the drive home.

The Woodworker sipped his coffee.  Sighed.  Wiped away the not-unwelcome wetness rising in his eyes.  Closed them.  Thought.  Missed.  Wished.  Opened them.   And he was happy.  As happy as one can be up on the borderline.