Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cold weather

I came home Tuesday evening and found that M. was upset because one of the dogs was missing. Shelby is a collie-mix who was one step above feral when we got her, and although she has learned to appreciate having her own bed, regular meals, and belly rubs, she will still wander onto the national forest looking for carcasses to scavenge.

M. had looked for her already, but I volunteered to go out too. The temperature was about 10 degrees F. (-12 C.) and dropping. Light, powdery snow was falling. I changed clothes, grabbed a walking stick, and headed up the Forest Service road into the Mason Gulch Burn, stopping occasionally to call and whistle.

From last summer's forest fire to this: the snowy ground, the black skeletons of pine trees like nervous pencil marks on white paper, the lowering clouds, and the failing light. All was silent except for the whisper of snow on the fabric of my coat.

If any scene exemplified the phrase "dead of winter," that was it.

When it started getting too dark to see, I went home, dogless. As it turned out, she was hanging around a neighbor's house. In her doggie brain, she must think like this: "Life is good now, but if these people fail me, I had better have a Plan B. And a Plan C. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

Tags: , . Cross-posted to Nature Blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chas:

What a marvelous picture in a wonderful paragraph: "the black skeletons of pine trees like nervous pencil marks on white paper". Felt like I was there. Thanks, man!

Be well,
Dave H.

5:30 PM  
Blogger VoxAethyr said...

Glad to know she was well. We had a cat at the collective I lived in during college with a similar propensity to wonder off -- she would always come back with a very sleek coat, though, so we figured she was going somewhere to people who were giving her food with high fish content. But eventually, she just decided to move on in life; and though I told myself she decided to leave her home full of far too many students coming and going to a quiet place with a happy family, I always worried in the back of my mind that she met an ill fate in the woods.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

So glad you found Shelby!

I also loved your image of "the black skeletons of pine trees like nervous pencil marks on white paper" and your remark on something I've been noting with surprise during my second winter in the mountains: that you can actually hear snow falling!

8:05 PM  

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