(Photo taken at another time and place)
On Chicken Ridge, it’s 6 degrees F. and a twenty knot wind makes exposed skin respond like its fifteen below. Inside, Aki stares at me as I spread peanut butter over another sourdough blueberry pancake. She must want some peanut butter. No dog would want to go on a morning walk, not in this weather. The little dog continues to stalk me around the house, discouraging any thought of me catching the last bit of the Liverpool-Everton derby on the TV. Okay, Aki, I need to go the Good Hardware anyway. You can come.
Outside, both of us dressed for the cold, Aki sniffs and pees, as usual until a strong gust catches her with her in mid-squat. She snaps her head into the wind and stares. Tough little pup. With the winds mostly at our backs we cruise down to the hardware store down near Gastineau Channel and find the door lock. A sign informs the one of that can read, “Closed, Big Going Out of Business Sale on February 12.” Aki, the one who can’t read, plants herself at the door and waits for me to open it. In time I convince her that no one is within to give her the expected dog treat.
We walk back up the hill, wind now in our faces; me wishing that I had brought a scarf; Aki knowing that she has been cheated out of a treat. We pass the Salvation Army store and come up against a gang of least twenty ravens squatting against the cold near the small hydro plant on Capital Street. The sun has come out, which brings out the purple sheen in the ravens’ feathers. Aki, shoulders hunched against the wind, powers along the conclave’s edge. Except for he two in her path, the big birds hold their ground. Even the two in her path only flit a few feet to right so we can pass.
Aki and ravens have a difficult relationship so this calm passage through their midst’s surprises me. Aki barks her resentment when ravens prowl in her yard. Just last week a raven swooped down on Aki and then, as the little dog followed, flew off over a busy highway. If she hadn’t come back when I called her, Aki would have been smashed flat by a car. They just don’t like each other. Perhaps, this morning, it is just too cold for combat.