The sherpas were laughing. They were too damn happy. Ezra was grouchy. He was halfway up into the biggest damn mountains he had ever seen, the sun wasn't up yet, and there was no coffee.
He hadn't wanted to believe that these people were doing so much to help him and Liza get into the mountains. He searched for the suspicion that they might want to do harm but it wouldn't come to him. There was an innocence about them that left him puzzled and secure. These were hard working men and women and they were in their place in the world.
And he wasn't in his place.
Liza came out of the tent and hugged him in a silent "Good Morning". He grunted at her. "What are you so happy about?"
"All of it!" She grinned. "The mountains, the snow, the fresh air… all of it!"
"Yeah, no coffee, it's cold, and all there is to eat is some leftover yak meat." It was hard to stay grumpy when Liza was so happy but he was damn sure determined to do it.
And then the sun came up. The light, pink and soft, hit the peaks behind them and turned the dark forms to living flame. Even the sherpas sat silent and watched the light creep down the flanks of the mountains. The silence was everywhere and nowhere. Ezra thought he could hear the rustle of the light sliding on the snow.
The sherpas watched the dawn and then with a nod, as if to say they were satisfied with how the day had begun, they turned to break camp.
Ezra thought he knew cold. He had lived on the coast of Maine all his life. He had seen days where the ocean froze clear across the bay. He had seen the sea smoke and worked with ice dripping from his mittens.
But this was different. This was cold with a vengeance. This cold robbed him of his already short breath and left him weak. As he struggled along behind the sherpas he realized that he was so cold he couldn't even break a sweat.
And the thin air in the mountains left him gasping for air. The sherpas knew of his difficulty and had had not loaded him or liza with much to carry.
And they climbed. This was a trading journey or they were carrying in supplies or something. When Mr. Po introduced them to Bobby (his name was Babba-something or other) he had explained that the old man had said they were to take these people to Shan Greel La. To Ezra's surprise Bobby had immediately conceded, undertaking to outfit them with clothing and equipment. He had refused payment (to Ezra's relief). Unfortunately none of the sherpas spoke any English and Mr. Po, once the deal was settled, had wished them well and gone on his way.
And so they climbed….