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Sharing warm whiskey with cold strangers

January 14, 2009

Last Friday night, my buddy Andre, called me up to ask if I wanted to go XC skiing on the V.A.S.T. (snowmobile) trail near our homes under the nearly-full moonlight and clear winter night sky. It was 8pm,  6 degrees and of course I said yes. Twenty minutes into the ski, we met up with three other skiing folks who were just finishing a long uphill heading in the other direction (we were about to hit the downhill) and they took the opportunity of running into us shadowy strangers to stop and chat.  One of them asked if we had any firewood, he was joking about starting a party. Now I didn’t have any firewood, but I did have whiskey. So I offered them a sip of Jameson’s from my flask and they all partook. It was a good moment. I found myself standing there breathing the amazingly fresh, cold, clean air and just pleased to find myself in that situation. It was one of those fleeting moments in life that you wish you could naturally replicate more often: 5 people, mostly strangers, connected only by the skis on our feet, the trail we were on, and the cold on our faces, standing togther, discussing the night and slowly passing a flask around deep in the North-Central Vermont woods. The moon shone down on us like a streetlamp overhead through the clearing in the trees above, and although the sea of snow around us was bright white, our faces were darkened shadows, a smile barely perceptable, but smiles there all the same on each face.

I have no idea who those people were and if I saw them again in daylight, I’d never recognize them in a million years. We were all covered in hats and neckwarmers and everything cold-weather-ski related. It just makes the moment even better – strangers who will always remain strangers.

 And so knowing that – knowing that the sharing of my warm whiskey with cold strangers, whom I’ll never meet again, began and created a scene and a moment that in it’s simplicy was purely magical, I’ll have to remember to try and be prepared with full flask in pocket to share it again the next time should the need arise.

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