Long Memory


I’m moving down a path covered with more snow than tracks. Aki and I have just left a well-trampled trail, one that she has used often in the past. Flooding by the moraine beavers makes the new trail impassible on all but the coldest days. Today—windless, and 14 degrees—is one those Goldilocks days when we can transit beaver-controlled country in relative comfort. After thinking this I look around and realize that I am using the wrong pronoun.



Aki stands statue straight near the trail junction. Her stare is also statue-like. It could be the product of several emotions: anger, impatience, disbelief, and even disappointment. This is a power grab or maybe even a simple effort to keep me from making a stupid mistake. The latter explanation has some merit.


Aki once watched me tightrope my way across a fallen cottonwood log that almost spanned a beaver-flooded portion of the tail. I soaked one boot while trying to leap to dry ground. The fact that I splashed her in the process might have riveted her memory in place.


I turn back down the questionable trail knowing that the invisible rubber band connecting us will eventually pull her in my direction. She follows, but at a distance. Each time I stop she turns back into a statue. After we pass through the scene of my misjudgment, Aki dashes ahead. Two minutes later we reach a junction with another well used dog walker trail. From now until we reach the car she will only stop to check pee mail or to allow me to catch up.


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