A nordic morning

His breath percolated from his nostrils, leaving ice crystals on his beard and a cold residue on the scarf perched below his lips. Drawing another in, he tasted the winter air, luxuriating in its icy caress, in the crinkle of freezing nasal hair.

The syncopated rhythm of his arms and legs produced a crisp whisper from beneath his skis, a brief crackle as they slid over detritus fallen from the fir branches spread overhead. A long second later, he heard the near-silent sign of her passage over the same.

He imagined a smile barely visible in her garment-wreathed face as she moved to the left and sped up, the distance between them narrowing and vanishing. Now he could hear the normal murmur of her skis, the only other sound in the snow-damped silence of their sub-alpine world.

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