Self Portrait — Lou

Post by blogger | February 17, 2015      

I’ been sogged by the rain, frozen by snow… sliced by rock and steel more times than you you know — but — I’m still *willing.



The pinkie doesn’t move too well. All that ice climbing with straight shaft tools tended to get crunchy. The ring finger takes over, filling in where the pinkie is such a weak little number. All those rock crimps for so many years used all four; key was distributing the stress. Pinkie resisted but got recruited. Sometimes, finger cracks were sized so only the pinkie would fit. Ugly. We’d tape to just the right size, but that only lasted a few moves. Middle finger has seen big work. Six string acoustic and Fender P-bass. That proud index finger has stood up to abuse so prolific I’ve forgotten way more than I remember. Recently? Took a fall logging (aikido shoulder rolls always come in handy) and popped the front joint pulleys. That looks weird. Your fingernail points north when you’re looking west. Then I tried to swat a wasp out of our pickup cabin: wasp score one, driver zero. Then did a scientific micro section on the sheet metal under our kitchen stove. That’s the digit that’s pulled the trigger on a half century of Skil saws, electric drills, cameras and guns. Don’t forget the thumb! No ligaments on the inside, those went away in a ski fall thirty years ago. Wish I still had those, they come on handy. So does tape but it’s not the same thing. Never smashed that thumb with a hammer — I’m right handed. Left got bashed a few times. Amazing how resilient the cartilage of your fingertips is, but it would be so much better if it didn’t have any nerves. I’m not forgetting the back of that hand. Jammed it in so many cracks on climbs the number is in the gazillions. Most of all, take it as a whole. That mano still likes to wrap around a ski pole grip and feel a brushing touch between nice arcs on a pair of soft modern rockered skis. It’s the hand that pressed my wife’s back as we wedding danced thirty years ago, and still does the job. That’s where the ring finger comes in, on the other hand.

I’m thankful for the hands I was given, and the work they have done.

(*Thanks Little Feat for the lyrical structure.)



17 Responses to “Self Portrait — Lou”

  1. Scott Nelson February 17th, 2015 7:16 pm

    That’s awesome writing Lou. Super interesting perspective. Never really thought about all the life our hands have been through, kind of amazing when you think about it.

  2. See February 17th, 2015 7:44 pm

    Far and away your body is your most important piece of gear. Any maintenance tips?

  3. Terry February 17th, 2015 8:40 pm

    Great post, Lou!

    And I love that song. Here’s my favorite version, with Lowell George and Linda Ronstad, a “drive-by radio station set” from March 19, 1974, WHFS-FM Studio, Bethesda, MD. Jump to 5:30 to go straight to Willin’.

  4. Terry February 17th, 2015 8:55 pm
  5. Lou Dawson 2 February 18th, 2015 6:03 am

    I forgot to mention that the mano can still touch type, and does a passable one-handed thumb typing on the smartphone. Really amazing what we have with our hands. Maintainence? The basics seem to be really important, moderation in everything but what’s healthy, and if you’re getting some stiff joints experiment with diet, no matter what your age. I’m not perfect with all this but do ok. Lou

  6. Lou Dawson 2 February 18th, 2015 6:07 am

    Terry, that song is of course over played, but it’s indeed an amazing creative work of art, the Linda Ronstadt version is super. Whoever does the cover, it requires a good singer, with good phrasing, it’s not forgiving. Lou

  7. Andy Carey February 18th, 2015 8:05 am

    LOL. When people ask me “How are you?” I respond: “Never ask an old man how he is doing unless you have at least an hour to hear the chronicle of injuries, aches, and pains.”

  8. Lou Dawson 2 February 18th, 2015 8:51 am


  9. EdR February 18th, 2015 2:08 pm

    Yeah, what Andy said. Thankfully, most body parts repair themselves. Now, if they would only rejuvenate fully………….

  10. craig February 18th, 2015 2:20 pm

    This is good insightful writing – love it, the wisdom of experience coming through.

    More of this please.

  11. Mark Worley February 19th, 2015 9:56 pm

    Perhaps this is ignorance speaking, but the photo shows a hand that appears to have avoided bad arthritis so far. Great post.

  12. Harpo February 19th, 2015 10:33 pm

    Lou, I only come to Wildsnow for gear talk! Please keep creative, insightful writing to a minimum 😉

  13. Lou Dawson 2 February 20th, 2015 7:45 am

    Thanks Harpo!

  14. Andreas February 22nd, 2015 10:58 pm

    Putting beautiful context to the love for the mountains and plain old love for life in general. Thanks for a good piece.

  15. Daniel February 23rd, 2015 1:01 pm

    Nice post Lou. I love that song and enjoyed that little ditty. It’s a cool thing to look at our own hands, and kind of from a 3rd person perspective, reflect on the places we’ve been, and they fun we’ve had. Thanks!

  16. Charlie Hagedorn February 23rd, 2015 9:41 pm

    Great post, Lou. One of the wonderful things about Wildsnow is your humanity.

  17. Bard February 25th, 2015 7:01 pm

    Great stuff Lou! I took a film shot of my Grandpa’s hand on a braided steel bridge cable years ago. The human hand is delicate enough to feel a thousandth of an inch wrinkle, yet strong enough to grip over 100lbs, incredible!

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