A crystal clear day, with an azure sky behind snow-white trees, greeted K and me this morning.
It was the kind of day that we crazy mountain folks love. The air hung over our mountains as still as ever but below zero Fahrenheit. The cold and stillness preserved the snowflakes in the crystalline form that they fell.
K and I started climbing a ridge but her senses led her to high alert almost immediately. I tried to take her photo but she obsessed over something up the ridge.
So, I leashed her, and asked her to show me what was so interesting. She led the way, constantly moving her nose across the invisible trail to stay on course. K normally walks next to me or behind me on a leash so this behavior was extraordinary.
She led me to the only tracks on the slope, as far as I could tell. The tracks showed that a group of coyotes had contoured along the slope very recently. Only one set of tracks appears in the photo but several other sets paralleled it.
I let K follow them, briefly, on leash, and then we reset our course for our original destination. We emerged from the dark forest into brilliant sunlight reflected off the glittering snow.
As soon as we intersected a human trail and K seemed to have forgotten the coyotes, I let her run. We climbed Hug Hill, an astonishingly beautiful oasis this morning.
Despite the beauty around me, both my spirit and my body dragged me down today. I couldn't keep my normal pace. K peered down at me from the top of Hug Hill, with an inquisitive look that seemed to ask why I was so slow.
When I finally arrived, we reveled in the beauty and sunlight. K squinted at the bright world.
And then gave me the soft-eyed look that she's been showering me with all day long.
We found some elk tracks near Hug Hill and followed them for a while but my heart wasn't immersed in it like usual.
So, we turned around, headed back uphill and toward home. Again, K, the Queen of Hug Hill, waited for her faithful, but slow, servant at the top.
We headed home, albeit through some breath-taking meadows and past some active bobcat scent posts. I can't stop seeing more of their scent posts every day. It's as if my world is being taken over by those wonderful cats.
In fact, I got a short clip of video of a bobcat the other night visiting a scent post. But, it was so short that it's not worth showing you. However, I'm starting to wonder if I should keep a camera at the most active scent post throughout the spring to see if a mama bobcat ever brings along a kitten. Now, that would be a sight to behold!
We found R slumbering at home, tired from his long morning run. His fur shined and smelled like cinnamon. What a sweet boy!
And, K watched me pensively for the afternoon. Her face, half in shadows and half in sunlight, seemed to reflect how I feel.
Today, for some reason, the shadows kept creeping over my soul like they crept over K's face in the photo. I know that this mid-recovery slump is par for the course. After all, I've been through this process many times.
I wish that doctors would stop giving me warnings about the worst-case scenario for my spine. Those warnings echo in my brain at random times, leaving me feeling like my future is beyond my control. So much is beyond my control, simply dictated by the nucleic acids that make up my DNA, although I feverishly work at controlling the factors that I can affect. Staying physically strong, keeping my spirits up, and immersing myself in the things that I love.
I need to live, unfettered, seizing each day of this precious life. If a bobcat can not only eke out an existence but find the energy to play like a kitten, then so can I. I've gazed at my painting of the bobcat multiple times today and it helped me remember my aspirations for 2010. Be flexible and strong.