The snow gently falls on the lifeless ash-covered mountains. The last few gnarled tree stumps are smoldering and one charred branch reaches to the sky, grasping for a ray of hope. Gray beings to slowly fade to white and the landscape takes on an inviting air of purity. Chimes begin to echo in the distance and my conscience awakens, reminding me the dream will not last long; it’s time to start my morning chores. Goodbye my beautiful snow, my beautiful mountains. One day we will reunite.
It’s December 1st, 145 A.B. (After Burn) and our cave-dwelling colony, Earth Conscience, is not only surviving the post-apocalypse – we are thriving. 9,672 strong with 71 expecting mothers and 23 elders nearing the end of this life cycle, including the son of our tribe’s founder, Silius.
Every Saturday night we gather in the pantheon and the elders tell stories of pre-burn days on the Earth’s surface. My favorites are Silius’s. His parents were snowboarders from a long lineage of mountaineering enthusiasts. He told stories passed down from his ancestors of snowboarding in the mountains of Jackson, WY and the sensation of powder under your board and over your head. The beauty of snow falling on the trees and the peace it brought to the land and the mind.
By 2042 A.D., the earth had reached a scorching average temperature of 153 degrees F; drying up lakes, frying farms, killing almost all food sources. Global warming was winning. The dust storms that ensued due to the lack of vegetation began to encompass vast majorities of continents. Scared by the earth’s inability to support human life, the Consumer Conscience Tribe had been colonizing Mars for decades and was on its last leg of transport flights by 2049 A.D. My tribe, Earth Conscious, couldn’t bare the idea of abandoning our planet, a planet that had given us so much for so long only to move on to the next planet and leave Earth as a landfill of our past. So we built down, discovering caves and underground fresh water lakes and rivers in the heart of the Nevada desert. By 2051 the dust storms had grown in such strength and magnitude they entombed Earth in a perpetual darkness.That Spring our tribe retreated to our underground world, cutting off our connection to the outside indefinitely, ready and willing to wait out the apocalypse.
It’s December 21145 A.B., the mark of Winter Solstice. The surface forecasters are predicting a break in the dust storms, and even a chance of sunshine peaking through the clouds that have enveloped Earth for 145 years. This means I get to feel sunshine for the first time! Sylice has a collection of snowboards he has stashed away for our one-day return to Earth’s surface and he said I could use one for the celebration! Words cannot describe the excitement I have to wear a snowboard on my feet and the ability to express a creative freedom like never before! As our torches guide us to the 2ft thick concrete doors that have served as our guardians, I reflect on my intent for the solstice and what I will burn in our sacrificial fires. I rise to burn our ignorance, worry, regret.I am optimistic for the rebirth of a human population on earth and the conscious way we will settle. We look to the future to live in a harmonious and loving relationship with earth. We let go of our ignorant past and look forward to the world we will one day build. Hopefully snow will return to Earth’s natural system and we can act out our passion in this incredibly unique element.
As the celebration begins I buckle into my snowboard and I realize that snowboarding embodies what once was; an environment that was so pristine and symbiotic. We have learned so much; how incredibly destructive Mother Nature can be when humans throw her balance so far off. It is a force not to be reckoned with; only respected and loved. As I feel the edges of my snowboard cut through this incredibly soft and seemingly innocent dust, I realize just how far we have to go till the day we can emerge and live on the surface of Earth again. I think of my future childrenand what world they will live in. I can only dream that they will wake to greet the sun every morning surrounded by family, fresh water, gardens full of food and once again living harmoniously as a creation of Mother Nature.