February 23, 2013


The lady waved as she passed, her smile such that any toothpaste producer would love to have pasted on their billboards.

Jane and I skied up a forest road on a groomed snowmobile track. There was enough snow, but barely. The lady passed us driving a small model Subaru sedan. Her dog galloped along behind with a silly grin on his face, waving his ears as gaily as his mistress waved her hands.

The dog appeared to be a Labrador/German shepherd mix, with ample dosages of beagle, airedale, Chihuahua, and wiener dog in the potpourri. The flopping ears, except for being black, could've been grafted from a basset hound. The mutt was long, tall, small faced, big eared and carefree happy.

We caught up with 'em a little later. It was at a spot where
the driver had backed into a side road before heading back to the main road and home. The dog's mistress stood outside the Subaru throwing her canine buddy treats for which he bounced all over two counties in sheer dog-world enthusiasm.

Both mutt and mistress flashed their patented toothy grins as we skied past, waving arms and ears in an infectious happy-to-be-alive greeting that we decided was more likely shared evenly with everybody.

Later, while laboring up the mountain, we discussed the pair. Jane said, "The lady was certainly cheerful, wasn't she?"

"Dog, too."

"But she looked like she could benefit by doing a little roadwork, too."

I laughed. "And let the dog drive? Right."

It's another year and we were back skiing on the same groomed snowmobile track. Again, there was only barely enough snow. Though we didn't see lady, dog, or Subaru, there was a set of going-and-coming auto tracks, with going-and-coming outsized dog prints running along behind.

We guessed it was the same lady and the same dog. She obviously takes the mutt for periodic runs. During light snow years she probably takes him away from beaten paths to keep him from being eaten by oncoming automobiles.

He's a lucky mongrel--all that fresh air and regular exercise. She's lucky, too, because she has an interest that takes her out of the house and into the woods.

After meditating on the pair as we toiled up the mountain, then glided back down, I told Jane we were lucky, too.

"We're out here skiing, not only because it's physically good for us and might help us live a little longer, but because it takes us away from the office and computer and ringing telephones."

"Besides that," she said, "we flushed a grouse and spotted a snowshoe rabbit."

I breathed deeply. "Smell that. Smell the cedars and the pines and the tamaracks. The lady and her dog smells that, too."

Almost as if we had the same thought, we paused side by side and stared into each other's eyes. Our lips brushed. Then we poled alongside the other, following the groomed trail as it crossed the interminable flat, back to our car.


Next week? Another walk on the wild side.


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