Thursday, January 05, 2017

First Paragraph


Hanging in the trees, as if caught there, is a sickle of a moon. Its wan light scatters shadows on the snow below, only obscuring further the forest that this man negotiates now as much by feel as by sight. He is on foot and on his own save for a single dog, which runs ahead, eager to be heading home at last. All around, the black trunks of oak, pine, and poplar soar into the dark above the scrub and deadfall, and their branches form a tattered canopy overhead. Slender birches, whiter than the snow, seem to emit a light of their own, but it is like the coat of an animal in winter: cold to the touch and for itself alone. All is quiet in this dormant, frozen world. It is so cold that spit will freeze before it lands; so cold that a tree, brittle as straw and unable to contain its expanding sap, may spontaneously explode. As they progress, man and dog alike leave behind a wave of heat, and the contrails of their breath hand in pale clouds above their tracks. Their scent stays close in the windless dark, but their footfalls carry and so, with every step, they announce themselves to the night.

- From The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

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