Rhyme and Reason by Kerri McGill

My knee twinges, begging me to call it a day. I know this must be my last run, the last run of the season.

And so, upon reaching the top of the mountain, I sit down in the snow to take a last look. The power of cold air on a mountaintop is undeniable. There are two trails down. I choose Rhyme, the one I have not been down as my last run. I had time to make a solid decision on the ride up in a squeaky outdated chairlift.

Only a few are left on the slopes at this time of the day.

There is a thin gentleman in a pale yellow snow jacket with a matching cell phone. He’s easily in his 70s. He looks from his phone to the lift and mountains beyond. He must be waiting for friends on the lift.

I pick myself up and move toward my chosen trail and wish him a good day. He holds his phone out to me. “Will you take a picture of me?” Oh. He is alone. And his soft accent whispers of the Alps. He is alone and he is far from home. Curiosities well up about who this man is, what he has been through and how he ended up here. I take pictures of him with mountains this way and that, hoping one will capture his lone adventure properly.

The lift is closing, a sure sign of the finality of this run and a certain kinship of we two strangers. You see in this moment, we own this mountain top, we two are friends, if only for a moment.

I wonder how far he’s traveled, who he’s with, if my pictures are good enough to capture his visit (they never are from a phone) He thanks me as I hand the pale yellow phone back to him. I strap into my snowboard and he deftly swooshes down Reason, the trail I’ve already been. I almost follow, so we might be friends for that much longer. But he is faster than my made up mind. He chose Reason and I chose Rhyme.

The base of this painting is a collage of unrelated maps. These maps fade in and out of the image and the key figure as well. This painting is not about the man, nor the mountain. It is the fleeting moment when you connect with another person and the strange assortment of trails taken to cross paths.