I brought Aki on this trail because it leads to a freshly frozen mountain meadow. On the way we passed thickets of middle aged alders, now wearing a layer of snow, not the leafy covering of our last visit. Their barely covered trunks arc and limbs bend gently upward. I know the curving tension comes from each tree’s hunger for sun. I know it is wrong to create fantasy lives for these trail side alders but they look too much like a ballet troop getting in a couple hours of barre work before lunch. I can almost hear Sibelius over the grunts of a fork lift unloading barges across channel.
Aki stays well ahead on this trail, showing impatience each time she must wait for me to catch up. With the temperature around 14 degrees Fahrenheit, today’s rain forest snow falls dryly on the trail. It doesn’t stick or form pesky snowballs on Aki’s poodle coat. With only a few inches fallen, the snow can’t impede her flight across the meadow.
Since the near zero temperatures of the past two days had solidly frozen the muskeg, we leave the main trail. With our combined memories of last year’s paths, we manage to avoid getting lost. Sometimes I lead Aki away from confusion in a thicket of stunted pines. Most of the time she saves me from leading us away from the way home.