Lying by the river on Doronicum
In the Himalayan winter sun,
Nettles separate from the scenery
And stick instead to me,

After generations in hiding
Ready for a bit of riding.
As nature freed by season and
By chance adheres so easily to man—

When put to seed, we all must reach
A level where our going
Proves a way of growing,
As the least of weeds can teach.


I wrote this in a Nepalese valley, the Imja Khola, in 1984, surrounded on one side by Everest and the other by Makalu. We were on the way out. The Sherpas had fallen into a huge crevasse but landed on a snow bridge. From their location they must have been leaving. My tent and provisions disappeared into the glacier. More of this story is in Volumes 3 and 5.
I hadn't seen vegetation in a month, as we were above it. I am often accused of being above vegetables. So even nettles left an impression. There must be something I can learn from missing Cathy for so long, I thought.
So this is it, written as a note to Cathy, delivered by hand a week later. Surprisingly lucid, considering. I wrote "Against the Race," in this same volume, on that climb.