Winter Light

Because there is no rest for the wicked (huh?) I was persuaded to take my two canine sidekicks out to the Refuge for a late afternoon walk. I’d already ridden the Bike to Nowhere through some Spanish mountains and thought “That’s it for today,” but I was wrong. How do you resist two dogs attempting to help you put on your socks, looking at you with their yearning canine eyes, communicating more clearly than any human ever could? How do you resist that? How do you pretend you don’t know what they’re saying? Dogs see through that anyway. Is evasion possible? of course it IS possible but do you really WANT to evade it? So there we were, in Bella, heading south under a spectacular, bright blue sky that didn’t have even a single cloud. Meanwhile, Mohammed’s Radio played “Where the Streets Have no Name.” Clearly (ha ha) the jaunt was destined.

There is a change in the angle of sunlight, moving further south, only a month away from the shortest day of the year, the light is becoming winter light. We usually do an out and back walk, and I noticed the light on our return walk. The return walk was Bear’s “turn” which means she got to walk on the nature side of me and follow her heart’s desire within the length of the leash. During Bear’s turn, we went more slowly than we do on the way out when it was Teddy’s “turn.” He doesn’t savor the experience; he chases it. He pulls and sniffs, can’t get “there” fast enough. He’s like a kid with birthday money at the mall. Bear will hurry toward the experience then take her time savoring it.

The road is elevated about four feet above the wetland, for obvious reasons, and on the north side of that slope there are still snow and tracks. Along the road were several spots where deer and/or elk had bedded down in the grass.

When it was her turn, Bear pulled, too, but not ahead. She pulled down the slope to get closer to the spots where the ungulates came up and went down. At one point she was rolling in the snow and slid almost all the way down. Luckily, I was able to bring her back up the slope before that happened or all three of us would’ve been in the ungulate bed.

Meanwhile Teddy stayed close to me, sometimes touching my hand with his nose, “Are you still there, Martha?”

For most of my dog-owning life, I didn’t leash my dogs. It was only after a ranger in the Laguna Mountains took me aside. He’d caught Ariel and just loved her. “You should leash her,” he said. “Here’s why.” He went on to explain that if my dog encountered a cougar there were a lot of possibilities. 1) nothing would happen, 2) the dog would be killed by the cougar, 3) the dog would run back to me with the cougar following, not a pretty situation.

Ariel had great recall, so I didn’t worry about her running off, but I also didn’t think about mountain lions and packs of coyotes. I kind of ignored the Ranger until one of my dogs, Mila, Chow/Golden retriever mix, went off to join a very large pack of coyotes. I got her to come back, but there were upwards of 20 coyotes in the valley below the trail on which we were walking. That was it. When I became an owner of Siberian huskies, it was obvious to me THEY had to be leashed or they’d head into the territory ahead of the rest which was their primary motive in life, to find poop, game, or an Iditarod… 😉

At the Refuge dogs have to be leashed, so I try to minimize the effect of that on what is in my dogs’ nature to do. Both of these dogs equate their restraint with freedom which is a very interesting philosophical position. I really admire them.

While Bear was rolling happily in a patch of snow, I had the chance to notice the light. From a photographer friend a long time ago I learned always to turn around. “I’ll be taking a photo, completely absorbed in it, use up my last plate, then I turn around and there’s a better picture. Now I look around first.” When I turned, I saw that the long snow shadows matched the sky, reflected the sky.

Featured photo: Frozen pond

I realize I write the same post over and over but this is my life. I was thinking as I put this together this morning that maybe it’s a good thing to offer a few minutes of Refuge.

15 thoughts on “Winter Light

  1. I just rode the Bike to Somewhere (the library) in late afternoon light. Turning back west close to 4 PM the sun was directly in my eyes and, where shielded from the sun, it’s already dark.

    Walking with Bailey and Amira (when I was dogsitting) sounds like walking with Bear and Teddy. Amira wants to climb trees to chase squirrels and can jump higher than my head. She’d like to pull my arm off. Bailey wants to sniff and roll in stuff. He’s in no hurry except when he decides to canter just for the hell of it.

  2. I’m never bored by your treks in the Refuge. Mochi has been sniffing snow the last couple of days. She has even tried to roll in it! Of course when she comes inside she has sneezing fits due to inhaling all that snow/water!

  3. Bear,…I’m just like you girl. Teddy, I love your style too. You two are the best pair! But really it’s your Momma that’s the best. Of course she can’t refuse you…especially when the Refuge is calling. MAK,…I love your life! The winter light is beautiful. There are many pictures I have containing my shadow…I don’t intend to at times. The reasons the Ranger have for leashing are wise. Finn stays with me well…but I do worry about her size when we’re out and about. An owl, hawk, or any other animal could use little effort to overtake her. Finn and I send our love and gratitude to all 3 of you this Thanksgiving week. 💙 ❄️💙❄️🦃🦃🦃🐾🐾🐾🐾

    • “Finn is too little to run free. Too many things would like to eat her. I would protect her. Your pal, Bear.”

      You might enjoy this woman’s Youtube channel when you’re taking it easy. Bighorn Mountain Alpacas

      She raises alpacas and has 7 dogs like Bear. They’re half Akbash and half Pyrenees. You can see what the dogs do — chase away hawks is one thing! Bear doesn’t — she’s been taught that we stop and watch all the large flying birds. She alerts me, though. This woman also has the most wonderful horse — Lexi. She and her daughter live in the Wyoming end of the Bighorn Mountains. An interesting coincidence is she taught on the Crow Reservation — a different school than my mom, but still, it’s a small world. I follow her on Facebook. We wish you a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving, Karla Much love from us ❤️🧡 🐾🐾

  4. I never tire of the Refuge, and Ophelia wants to know when she can go walk with Bear and Teddy at the Refuge. She hopes to paw the snow together to get all the good smells.

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