This morning, after a night of mixed snow and rain, clouds descended on this mountain meadow. Rather than curse the obscuring wall of white for hiding the surrounding mountains, I smile. Aki, this must what it is like to walk in a cloud.
Aki, already moist from the dewy air, trots away without responding to my romantic statement. She has no interest in spinning the day into something other than what it is—wet and gray. The little dog is nose down, her body tense with anticipation as she walks a crooked path across the muskeg. Near one of the pothole ponds she slams to a stop and buries her nose into a clump of lichen. Then she whirls around and marks the spot with urine.
Once again I envy Aki’s powerful nose and the excitement she feels when tracking scent left my animals she will never meet. Bending down to harvest a few bog cranberries, I imagine sniffing out the trail left by a passing wolf, coyote or lynx. How great it would be to read nature without my eyes. But my sight is all I have so I scan the meadow for the animal that my dog just identified with her nose. All I see are the shapes of scattered pine trees made grotesque by wind and winter.
On the way home we stop at mile three of the North Douglas Highway. I park and watch a flock of siskins explode out of a leafless alder and fly toward the mountains on the other side of Gastineau Channel. If Aki saw the birds, she showed no interested in them. Perhaps they were too far away to smell.