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My Most Vivid Image This Year

By Jim Gasperini

Monday. A stalwart few of us struggle to finish cleaning camp in 80-90% whiteout.

Dust slices the air in thick waves like airborne dunes. We kick at ragged rows of drifted dust to see what junk might lurk within. Grumpier and grumpier we get, muttering about the clever campmates who snuck off at 1 a.m. after the burn to beat the traffic. What the hell are we doing here, anyway?

Suddenly, a thin, bent guy in a wheelchair comes racing out of the swirling dust. He has the thing cranked up to what must be maximum speed, so fast it totters back and forth as he zips along, head thrown back and tongue slightly out, a grin of utter ecstasy on his face. He appears grinning out of the dust, and a moment later disappears grinning into the dust again.

We stare after him long after the dust has swallowed him up. We imagine how unusual it must be for him to be out here in the elements, able to race his wheelchair as fast as he likes with the wind and dust on his face.

Grins return to our faces as well. Ah yes, that's what we're doing out here.

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