The Benefits of Dawdling


Yesterday the weather service promised that a foot of new snow would fall today. But sometime during the night moist air from the Pacific pushed up the temperature to above freezing. It’s snowing now but rain is not far away—rain that will soften the lake ice and wash away the snow we have been enjoying for the past few weeks. There is only one thing for a little dog and her people to do—try to sneak in one more ski adventure.


We drive out to Mendenhall Lake and park near Skater’s Cabin, which is across the lake from the glacier and its mountain consorts. Low clouds dump snow on the lake and obscure the view of anything more than a kilometer away. The resulting flat light would make it hard for us to see the trail, which is already filling in with soft, wet snow. We opt to ski through the campground. This pleases Aki because it is a popular dog use area.


On a downhill section of the trail, Aki flies by me as she follows her other human. In seconds they are out of sight. I see them again after I round a turn and begin a gentle uphill climb. At the top I learn from Aki’s other human that a goshawk had just flown low across the trail in front of them. Last winter Aki and I had watched a goshawk rip off strips of flesh from a snowshoe hare. I wonder if Aki just saw the bid bird again. I also wonder why the goshawk flew in front of them instead of me. On the Kuskokwim, where we once lived, the elders preached that the second boat always gets the moose. Moose and other animals will often stay hidden in the woods while the first boat or skier passes by. They can often be caught on the trail by a person dawdling along behind. Most of the time the elders are right. I see a lot while dawdling.


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