The Beginning

IditaLEARN!

by Gary Paulsen

There comes a time, a moment, no, a split second of a second of a second....

Right then, a moment of time so quick, so profound that it cannot be measured, can never really be understood.

You are there. In the starting chutes. The ceremonial start is a thing of the past and while it was fun it was in many ways meaningless. Something for the crowds, something for the press, something for them, Them, the people who watch and wonder and shake their heads and smile and sometimes cry....

But that was then.

And this is now.

Handlers have been dragged by your team across the lake ice, through gates, through teeming crowds of people and blaring speakers until they are stopped, with half a dozen men holding your sled, keeping it there while the dogs lunge and scream to go and you look down the long line of fence on either side, an opening at the end that leads to Nome, and hundreds, thousands of people leaning over the sides to get pictures and you look down at your sled and then up....

And there is nothing.

Silence.

There. That second of a second has come and you see your dogs more intensely than you have ever seen them, know them more than you have ever known them and for that moment it is like it will be later, like it will always be; for that moment there is just you.

And the dogs.

A time that cannot be clocked and then a voice comes through:

"Five."

"Four."

"Three."

"Two."

"One."

And they let you go and the sled leaps under you as the dogs dig in and slam forward and all the training and planning and work, two years, and money--lord knows how much--and crippling time rushes out ahead of you and in this wild and wonderful moment, in this grand chance of a moment you know only one thing with absolute clarity and certainty.

Your life will never be the same again.

IditaLEARN's School is:Eden Lake Elementary

Contact IditaLEARN!

All website content copyright Iditalearn, 2009