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Posted on: February 26, 2015

[Illustration] Andreas Schmidt

When I was a boy, I found myself atop a high peak in the desert Southwest, a slate-grey layer of thin afternoon cloud muting the day's heat. Deep canyons blurry with ponderosa unfurled from the toe of the mountain, and in the distance, bald summits rose above badlands creased with arroyos, beetling with hoodoos, the landscape an ancient and exfoliating skin. Far below, my mother was a small bronze- armed dot with a light-blue backpack, waiting on the trail that contoured around the volcanic cone. I waved to her to let her know that I was OK, that I was safe where I stood. She waved back; her brown hair drifted across her shoulder.

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