I’m not sure what came over me last night, but I had the urge to go for a walk. Don’t get me wrong, I love to walk, but last night was -22 Celsius, and my house was nice and warm, thanks to the oil furnace in the basement. I was sitting on my extra comfy couch, with both dogs sitting at my feet and the cat behind me on the back of the chair. My girlfriend, exhausted from a hard day’s work, was fast asleep in the bed, and my son was rolled up in his favorite blanket in his room. The house was so quiet and so comfortable; but yet, the full moon outside seemed to be calling me.
When I finally made up my mind to go outside, it was around midnight, and despite the stillness of everything around me, I was excited to go. Making sure to wear my warmest long johns under my jeans, I put on my warm winter coat, the one my sweetheart bought me for Christmas, hauled my trusty knitted hat over my head,attached the leashes to the dogs, and I was on my way.
The frosty air twinged at my nose and I could see my breath in the cold northern air. The crunch from the frozen snow made it fun to walk along the long driveway and onto the well walked path that led down the old woods road where I spent many childhood days playing.
The great thing about living in the place where you grew up is that you know all the great places to go, and the little community where I live is no different. I know many great walking trails that lead to vast rivers and mountain sides. On this night, I decided to walk along the path that leads to Little Pond Mountain, a beautiful trail that surrounds the little valley beneath the mountain.
The dogs were excited enough when I tackled them up with their little harnesses and leashes, so you can only imagine how anxious they were when I unhooked them and let them run free. The great thing about living in a small community is that without all the traffic, you can let your dogs loose from time to time.
The little one, a ‘teacup pom’ ran fast, even for a dog weighing under four pounds. The moonlight lit up the entire forest, and walking on the well beaten path allowed us to walk at a good pace. Since it had snowed earlier that day, and we were fortunate enough not to have too much wind, the snow settled on each branch of the tall pine and spruce trees that lined each side of the path. A postcard could not compare with the beauty I noticed, as the silvery moonlight glared across the path ahead of me, and light snow fell from the branches of the trees.
A set of rabbit tracks crossed the trail where we walked, and the dogs picked up the little bunny’s scent. The two of them attempted to seek out our hoppy friend, but to no avail, as the tracks were from another time, perhaps early in the morning.
We came across a small stream, and the snow covered bridge that allowed us to cross. An icy crust covered the little stream, and I was treated to a chilly snack as I broke off a piece of the ice, and holding it in my warm mitts, enjoyed the frosty taste of the cold stream. The water here in the forest is clean and safe to drink, and the dogs soon realized that it was also very cold.
As we were walking, I thought I may have heard the song of a coyote echoing in the hills surrounding us. While I told myself that it might also be the wind whistling through the mountains, I figured that turning back might not be a bad idea. I did have to work in the morning, and since it was now approaching 2 a.m., it might just be time to head back anyway.
I was not the only one spooked by the coyote song, as the dogs quickly made up their minds to head home as well, and our step was a small bit faster heading home than it was on our way to the valley trail. Hurrying along, we came to a set of deep tracks, and then the dogs started. The deep tracks led right up to the creature that made them, and the two tiny dogs were dwarfed by what appeared to be a giant animal standing next to my two faithful friends. I called out to them, and the two came running, as if their lives depended on it. The bigger dog, a part terrier/part collie, jumped into my arms, almost knocking me down, and the little one hid behind me, as we took cover in the small tuckamores on the side of the trail.
The large animal in question was a moose. It appeared to be a one year old calf that probably wandered away from its mother. The moose was standing in the trail, the only groomed trail that led to our destination. Since I lived in the area all my life, I knew that a calf separated from its mother was not a god send, and that mom was not far away, but she was protective. She would not take kindly to two small dogs barking and spooking her baby. We made a quick detour around the animal, who was grazing on a few alder branches that were within her reach, and now finding ourselves back on the trail, the three of us made quick time heading home.
When I got back to the house, I was winded from the brisk walk and the frosty air. As the heat from the house hit me, it was not long before I was safely in bed, next to my sweetheart, drifting quickly into the slumber that brought me the sweetest dreams of the approaching day that lay ahead of me.
The dogs were quiet on this night as well.