For the Love of Winter
Last night it snowed. Not the light, flaky snow that leaves a nice thin,
clean cover on everything, but a thick, heavy blanket that overnight changed the landscape.
Now, you would have thought that would have made me the happiest camper
around, but it didn't. See, the truth is, since we moved to Perryvale in
1998 the winters have all been rather late and mild, so we just haven't had
to focus on putting in sledding trails, as by the time there was snow, I
was in Alaska or Minnesota training. In the last 6 years many of the trails
that we counted on being able to use when we bought our property have been
fenced off. Yes, we have a lot of great 4 wheeler trails for the dogs, but
they use sections of gravel roads and cross highways, all things that are
unsafe to do with a sled.
Anyway, I spend Wednesday night in a fitful sleep, tossing and turning
worrying about how I was going to keep getting long runs in on the team
(they are up to 30 - 50 mile runs now) for the next month.
I slugged my way through the snow to feed the dogs in the morning, preoccupied with my worries. When Mark got home from work at 7am and made
some cheerful comment about the snow, I grunted and then launched into a
whine about my 'woes'. He seemed pretty confident it would work itself out
and we would find trails. "Sure", I thought, "Maybe if we truck the dogs -
but that just adds to my already full days." After telling me I should just
take a few small teams out for short runs in the 'Green' area around the
house, he headed off to bed.
I had no intention of running. I'd wait until the County plowed the roads
and then get back to my schedule. I'd take today to catch up on the one
million other things that need my attention before I leave for Alaska in
I worked on a few things in the house, but by 10am I found myself out in
the garage struggle to muscle one of my sleds out of it's summer storage
area. I still had NO intention of running; I'd just get the sled out. Soon,
I was strapping on sled bags, laying out lines and finally, selecting harnesses - giving into the inevitability that I was running dogs today.
Knowing I would be breaking deep snow the entire way, I selected a solid
and experienced 6 dog team; Grover and Gus, Surge and Chester, Kara and
In no time, they were hooked up and I unsnapped the quick release. We
sailed out of the yard and into the unbroken winter landscape. In our sheltered valley the snow still clung to the branches of the trees and the
dabbled sunlight made it sparkle and twinkle. The sky was that impossible
blue that really only happens when the air is crisp, clear and cold.
It took no time for the realization to hit me that today's run wasn't about
miles, building muscle, lungs, tendons, Iditarod, etc - today's run was
about the SOUL. Schedules, details, plans be damned - today was about remembering the connection to my soul and spirit I felt the first time I
hooked up dogs. Remembering why I love this lifestyle of mine so very much.
Grover and Gus flawlessly took the turns and corners asked. These are dogs
that I've spend so much time with and understand me so well, that it sometimes seems merely thinking about a turn will make it happen.
To say the run was flawless would be a lie - Kaylinn is in heat and the 4
males in front of her were completely aware of every move she made. They
remembered their jobs and did them well, but they were also a bit distracted.
The winds picked up when we climbed out of the valley and drifted snow had
the team breaking trail up to their chests. Little Kara was forced to bound
through the deep snow to keep up with her longer legged teammates.
They roared back down the hill with ears back, tongues lolling, and huge
husky grins on their faces. Although I kept my tongue in, my expression was
much the same!
We logged in a solid 6 ½ miles before pulling back into the yard.
I put them away, ran into the house, grabbed a quick lunch, started a meal
in the slow cooker and ran back out to hook up another team.
When I pulled back into the yard, Mark was up. "You decided to run after
all" he said. He smiled when I mentioned this was the second team I had had
Sometimes we get so bogged down in the details of our lives, we forget to
step back and look at the bigger picture. I LOVE WINTER, I'm ecstatic that
it snowed and the rest will all find a way to work itself out!!!!