We drive up from the city, out from under the clot of clouds and smoke. We follow the Lolo River up toward Lolo Peak. The hills are nearly bare; what snow still clings is a week old and sunken into the brush. I hope I haven’t rented the set of cross country skis for nothing, but Patty says the pass usually holds a miracle, being the gate between mountains, the border of two states, and the dumping point for abundant powder. The road steepens. We crawl into an earlier time zone, beginning our hour anew. We crest the pass and coast into an oasis of pure and blinding whiteness. The pines are draped with thick white, painted onto every needle and branch. The land is so white that the sky’s blue seems as brightly dark as a marble. Our floating island of winter teems with revelers in colorful snowpants, sledding and skiing and loosing their joyful dogs. We snap on our skis and push ourselves into the storybook, and our plot unfolds, a double line through vastness. Here are blind curves and downhills: lean in, you’ll either fly or fall, and both are true. Bend at the knees, point your skis like an arrow, and let go.