Jilly D.

Breaking Trail

In Grief, Mourning, Pictures and memories, Signs from beyond, The Farm, Time and seasons on February 6, 2011 at 12:37 am

The dismal view of winter on Warren Pond

Trying to be a better pack leader means giving the dogs more exercise. They haven’t been able to get a good field run in now for over a month. Too much snow.

After plodding through the field and wood trails first thing his morning, I loaded the dogs up into the car and headed west toward Mecklenburg. The dogs now associate riding in the car with field trips.

Scooby still gets a little anxious when he sees people walking on the street or we pass a bicyclist in the city of Ithaca. They both relax as we head across the canal and up and out State Route 79 west.

It’s been hard on me and hard on the dogs not being able to get back down to the pond, and to Sam. It’s where my feet feel most planted on this earth. I know its secret. I belong to the pond and the farm. It never belonged to me really.

As I turn south on Buck Hill Road I see Scooby in the rear view mirror grinning ear to ear. His tail is quivering in anticipation of a run.

As I near the driveway, it’s clear the plow has built up quite a barrier to driving down into the lane. So I simply pull over to the side of the road and park.

The dogs jump over the snowbank but it’s just as deep all the way down the lane. We’re breaking trail. Lucy is ahead leaping. Her front feet break the crust and her back legs jump into those new holes. I follow and my feet are larger. Scooby daintily tries to step into only our prints behind me. Lucy struggles and grunts and pushes to make a trail for us. She stops and turns back. We are not far behind and it’s not much easier to follow than it is to lead when breaking trail.

Five hundred feet down the lane just as the field begins to open up, we stop and enjoy the view. I watch Lucy scan the fields and pond and Scooby’s nose is dancing on the breeze of scents.

So pristine. You can see for miles. Behind the cabin the hills roll up into the morning sunlight; a dark green grey. Snow everywhere. Silence of a deep sleep.

The dogs do their job, sniffing out where the deer have urinated and leaving their mark. They tentatively follow old deer prints off the side of the lane, but double back when the snow gets too deep.

I head down the lane toward the cabin. The snow gets deeper.

Lucy then is on top of the snow crust and it holds her weight. Then Scooby. He stands as though it’s sheer ice and all four legs will swoop out from under him at any time. I can tell he’s not real sure about walking on top of snow.

Just then his back leg pops through the crust and he’s got one leg in the snow up to his groin. Then both. Then all four. He’s not having as much fun as Lucy. Lucy is trying to punch through the crust of ice that covers the snow with both front feet. She’s jumping up and down trying to break through and when she does she takes a mouth full of snow and bites it.

We are not even half way down to the cabin and I realize we can’t get down there today. This is too hard. It’s more than aerobic! I’m exhausted and so are the dogs. And we still have to walk back up to the road.

Both dogs are incredibly obedient and stay close to my side as we trek back up the hill and back out following our first pass on breaking new trail.

It is not defeat. We all wanted to touch this place and we did; we just didn’t get all the way down to the pond. They’ve had an exhausting workout and it’s a reward for their improved behavior.

As we pull away, I can’t help feeling defeated. I wanted so much to be with Sam — at least his spirit — this morning. I tried. As I hit that zone of crying while driving on the highway, across my window flew a beautiful white snowy owl. I’ve known that owl for years.

He’s watching over me. He flew by. He knows how much I love him. He knows how hard I tried today to be there on the pond and remember all the good times.

Best times of my life. Cabin on the pond. And the “vacations” we took in cottage #1 at the other end of our pond! He put the f in fun.

Sweet Cottage #1 On Warren Pond Farm

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