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so the Sherpas say

The great sins, so the Sherpas say, are to pick wildflowers and to threaten children.

Peter Matthiessen The Snow Leopard

The children played in mud while parents worried. The rains had not stopped. They had never lasted this long in spring, never been this heavy.

Twice they had moved their families farther from the river, but the entire valley was in danger due to landslides. Staying and moving were perilous.

Yet the flowers bloomed, recklessly. Color all about: lemony and golden, cream and sugar, tangerine and peach, ruby and coral, azure and aqua. Still, the children played in mud while parents worried.

Thousands of miles away an older man smoked a cigarette on a cobblestone terrace overlooking what was once glacier. From the hillside, he stooped and picked a buttercup, the petals wide and delicate. A marvel.

He was joined by three other older men from the conference.

“It’s going to happen,” they told the man with the cigarette.

“Of course,” he replied, “but not in our day.”

They all smiled, and, dropping the buttercup, he offered them cigarettes. Together, their smoke wafted over the wildflowers of the once glacier.

After the rains stopped, the relentless summer sapped all vigor, all marvel, leaving countless dead and dying strewn across the valley, where they would slowly diminish, as they always have, into the over promised earth.

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