Here we are again—the poodle on one side of a softening expanse of white over water, me on the other. This time it’s Aki acting with caution, me on impulse. A roaring but narrow Fish Creek separates us. She need only cross a thinning snow bridge to join me on the uphill side. Huddling small on snow made bright by strong sun, the little dog waits for me to return to my senses and her side.
She who has no memory of her naughty acts is clearly thinking of our visit to the Troll Woods and her dunking in icy pond water, how she charged across thin pond ice towards the sound of a beaver tail slap on water until the ice gave way. She beams me her most pathetic look then moves, wounded dog style closer to the stream edge. I could explain the physics of then thing or continue climbing the sleep snowy slope with hopes that the invisible tether that connects us will pull her across the snow bridge. Instead I maneuver around the edge of a hemlock tree and recross the bridge, pick up Aki with kind hands, assure her with a similar tone, and cross the snow bridge a third time.
Together we climb on a softening slope of snow up through a mixed softwood forest to packed trail. Aki dashes around on the firm flat snow before trotting back to my side. Two eagles fly lazy circles over us, then head toward the saddle between two rounded peaks with faces scarred by recent avalanches. A child could recreate the scene of pure primary colors with four or five crayons.
Across a lake almost covered by a floating island of white, a young beaver slaps open water with its tail. Aki breaks from my feet to dash across ice too soft to support any effort of mine at rescue, seduced to disobedience by the percussive rodent. I call repeatedly for her return, knowing the ice or beaver could end her life.
The ice takes the first shot—giving way to drop the little poodle mix into a cocktail of ice and water. She dog paddles toward my voice and pulls herself out of the water at ice edge. Now she looks back to the beaver or is it the shore, both much nearer to her than I. Should I keep silent and hope she swims to safety on the far shore or keep calling, trusting that the ice is firm enough between she and I to offer the better path? I call out for her to return, knowing the beaver is nearer to Aki than I. She seems to weigh her choices, turning her head to me and then back to the opposite shore and falls into the water again.
I call encouragement and then, “come back here you stupid little dog.” “Are those last words she will hear?” No. Aki again pulls herself onto firm ice and then sprints back to the moss at my feet.
The little dog immediate begins exploring the Troll Woods trail for interesting smells—the near death experience forgotten. I chew on it for a long time, wondering at the resilience of poodles.
Driven in by rising winds determination replaces last week’s joyful exuberance in this old growth forest. Induced by the false promises of a fickle spring, the berry clans, blue and huckleberry, used their last winter reserves to flower before the storm. Now thousands of translucent and tiny Japanese lanterns rock in cold wind. We will share good crop of berries with the bears if true spring arrives in time.
On the forest floor waxy yellow skunk cabbage stalks power through new snow. Some unfurl to mimic a cupped human hand raised to catch a thrown ball. They fare best in ground now flooded by a swelling beaver pond.
Leaving the forest we find thick piles of storm driven seaweed along the beach’s high tide line. Pulsating wind pushes up forward. When a gust hits Aki’s unprotected privates she leaps in the air and then looks for the person guilty of such rudeness. I maintain enough space to avoid suspicion.