One day last week I went undertook a new frontier on snowshoe. This one included a fantastic tree house. The level of detail was bewildering.
Here are a few pictures of Vermont in winter. As the season comes to an end, I am noticing more and more under the crunchy white surface that I did not know existed. Even grass is exciting. Time for Spring! And apparently some nude swimming?
There's nothing like the company of a good dog. I had the pleasure of relearning this the other day during what was going to be a lovely but uneventful snowshoe to Yestermorrow from my house. This story feels like the makings of a movie to me, something to the likes of White Fang or Homeward Bound. I shall try to do it justice.
Ski Pole: Unfortunately I have no photos of Suerte
I set out in mid-afternoon, the sun still shining and the air brisk, with a bag filled with essentials and a mandolin slung over my back. I was heading to Yestermorrow to visit Josh and the other folks that live there and to possibly play music. I began noisily trudging down the ice laden road with my snowshoes on toward the trail head when I heard a dog barking behind me. It sounded distant so I continued. The barking, however, grew louder and the next time I turned around, a good sized, sturdy-looking dog was trotting toward me. I must admit, the image of a rabid wolf monster ran through my mind as I thought about what this animal might want from me. As much as I love dogs, the untethered type can be unpredictable and mighty scary when it comes down to it. I held out my ski poles in weak defense and said things like "go away", "shoo", "leave, you," all wildly ineffective. I tried to ignore him and keep walking but still he followed and got closer when I stopped. It was then I realized that his tail was wagging (clearly the ski poles were not a threat). This dog wanted to hang out. I held out my hand for him to see that I was good, he licked it and ran off ahead of me onto the beginning of the trail. Well, ok, I thought. I guess I'm walking with a dog now.
Confident in his path, the dog ran far ahead of me, checking out who had been there before and marking all sorts of territory. I could tell he knew this place. As we made it to the pond nearby, he began circling it as he probably always did. I, however, on this new route to Yestermorrow took an early turn and started toward a field and an unbeaten path. Not wanting to encourage the dog (though kind of wanting to), I didn't whistle or yell, but he figured it out anyway. A few minutes later, I turned to see him looking at me and backtracking, trying to find my path. Suddenly, he was sprinting past me, excited about the new frontier. This being Vermont, the snow was very deep and for someone with a paw radius of an inch or so, this proved to be a challenge, albeit a comical one from my perspective. (Even better was imagining tiny dog snowshoes.) It didn't take long for him to figure out that walking in my tracks was the way to go.
So there we were, trekking through a sunny open field bordered to the West by a steep forested hill and to the East by a strip of trees and the Mad River. The sun shone bright and the wind was low. We must have looked like a vagabond pair, this dog and I. Me, trudging through the snow with an old, canvas shoulder bag and a mandolin slung loosely, and a dog at my side. We might as well have walked a hundred miles together.
Eventually, after passing a creepy barn, we reached a small road which was to take us over the river. Of course, just after the river was the highway. I was now responsible for a dog crossing a 2-lane, busy highway. Perhaps he'll find some other dog friend in the next 50 feet and eventually go back home? No, that didn't happen. I crossed the highway first and the dog caught up and crossed after me. He started to turn back just as a car was coming so I yelled and he returned to me. Of course the lady in the sedan gave me that "get your animal out of my street" look to which I couldn't reply: but he's not mine! Oh well, we were almost there. As we marched through the brush on the northern edge of Yestermorrow I knew what was coming up. The chicken coop. I was not willing to risk this one. Animals can surprise you in their reactions and perhaps this gentle pooch was actually a cold, blooded hen killer. So, I grabbed his collar and we started to take the circuitous, anti-chicken route. The snow was deep and the dog did not want to be leashed but I had no choice. Our steps were out of sync, my bag started to slide in front of me and the mandolin began to follow. It was not a graceful scene. Eventually, I let him go and he went right up to the door of the intern house. They immediately welcomed the dog and looked at his collar. "Suerte," it read as his name, followed by a phone number. The collar also read, "CR xxxx-xxxx." One of the interns thought, "Costa Rica?" And that's when we realized, this dog spoke Spanish. Thus began a serious of commands in Spanish, Suerte obeying, and lots of giggling. We eventually got a hold of the owner and she came to pick him up.
Lucky of Kansas
I started to think later that his name, Suerte, means Luck or Lucky in English. That's the name of my very wonderful dog at home in Kansas. It seems that even common dog names cross language lines. It also seems that good traits follow the name Lucky. All in all it was a great day with a great dog.
And that is the story of Suerte.
I spent a year in Vermont taking classes at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. This blog is about my experiences in the snowy north.
Check out more of my photos on webshots here.