Aki was warm and cozy, maybe even asleep while I gathered her leash and harness. She might have been dreaming of breakfast or the small chunk of goat cheese that we wrap around her morning pill. I know she was slow to stir. Eventually she joined me at the front door. Together we walked through heavy rain to the car.
We drive into the mountains to a meadow recently covered by snow. I have two goals. One is to find snow for Aki to enjoy. The second is to harvest things that rested all winter under that snow
Medium weight rain flies on the wind into Aki’s face when she leaves the car. After evacuating her bowels, she gives me her, “Okay, let’s go home” look. She still follows me at a distance, freezing every time I turn around. If I don’t find snow for her soon, we might have to turn around. I decide to drop down a little hill in search of the white stuff. At the bottom, we find a strip covered with snow. Aki dashes up and rubs her face on it. Popping up she trots along, tail wagging. But when we leave the snow she starts again to drag her paws.
When I turn around and head back to the car, the little dog perks up. I check the trailside muskeg for bog cranberries. They ripened last fall and spent the winter lying on top of wet moss. Months of freezing and thawing softened the berries and enhanced their sweetness. They are at their most flavorful now, during the pre-summer famine. I imagine the local bears sucking them down after breaking out of hibernation. I imagine what it would be like, a hundred years ago, for an Alaskan to spice up his normal spring breakfast of dried salmon with a bowl of the red berries. Aki throws me an impatient look so I stop dawdling and head back the car.