January 12, 2007

Obie and I are the brave explorers, tromping through the underbrush, droplets clinging to our coats, following what I believe to be a deer trail. It is so narrow but so obvious, snaking into the ferns, around the fallen trees, down the forested hillsides. I stop periodically to look at the map, my nose cold and stuffy, Obie sitting at my feet, sniffing the dirt. "There's no way we can be lost," I tell him, hoping to convince myself. "If we cross a stream we've gone too far." And we venture further and further, too far to turn around, but far enough that my legs are aching and the tips of my ears are frozen. Still, though, curiosity beckons, and I want to know if we can do it. I don't like retracing my steps; I would much prefer to loop, even if it means making the loop myself.

Obie never doubts me; he'd follow me anywhere. He could walk for hours and be perfectly happy, more than happy, betraying his exhaustion only upon our return, when he sleeps so hard he whimpers as he breathes. A fork in the path and it positively kills me, because I want to separate in two, go both ways, because I have no idea where I am and may never be able to take the alternate path again. We're not on the map. I let Obie decide and we're going downhill, the firs standing so straight, green winter moss falling from the branches, misty light swirling round the trunks.

Tromp tromp, and I see a lone runner below, headphones and hat, spandex and sneakers. We stumble onto the main trail. "We made it" I exclaim to Obie, and he responds by running willy-nilly ahead, umhampered by the reaching ferns, the packed mud easy on his paws, the winter breeze urging him onward.