When we stop, Aki lifts her front right paw off the snow, drops it down and lifts up her rear left one. She alternates feet like this, doing a slow motion cold weather dance, until I switch off the camera and head down the trail. It’s cold, nine degrees Fahrenheit but there is no wind to riffle the incoming tide. I press as though rising waters ooze our escape path.
Aki and I slip on the thick layer of salt-water ice that formed over the trail during the last high tide. The tide must have rinsed away any interesting animal smells but the little poodle-mix doesn’t hold back. When the sound of rising water cracking ice encourages our retreat, I take a trail that parallels the channel’s edge. But, Aki doesn’t join me. Instead, she moves quickly onto the alder-lined path that leads to the car. I follow, walking hunched over to pass under a tunnel of alders themselves bent over by loads of frost and snow.
I don’t have to encourage Aki to hop into the car. But she doesn’t object when I drive to the Fish Creek trailhead and ask he to join me on another walk down to salt water. Here, at least, the tide hasn’t washed away the smells.