Columns 2008

Taking a spring walk

Two of my favorite times of the year in Anchorage are spring before the mosquitoes come and fall after they’re gone.  I can daydream to my heart’s content while walking, knowing nothing is sucking my blood while I’m not paying attention.

So there I was recently, dogs in tow, wandering the back woods of South Anchorage, mentally singing about April showers bringing May flowers. I’ll grant you that in Anchorage April showers might be snow instead of rain, and the flowers come closer to July than May, but you get the picture.  I wandered and daydreamed and listened to the birds as they warbled their hearts out trying to find the right nest mate.  I marveled at the patches of snow that survived despite the warmth of the sun. 

Through it all, the dogs sniffed and scrambled to their hearts’ content, restricted only by the length of their leads.  At some point in this Disneyesque reverie, I noticed Blondie had a potato in her mouth that she was carefully guarding from Blue, who eyed it with open longing. I’m not sure where the potato came from. I know for sure that Blondie had not a clue what to do with it. She’s not a real big eater, but as a dog is compelled by dogdom dogma to pick up anything that resembles something that may be edible and protect it from all who would take it from her.

Blue, on the other hand, has a healthy appetite. Like my legendary Lovey of Barrow fame, nothing she puts in her system is returned to earth before its time.  Blondie doesn’t have that ability. If she ever actually eats any of the inedible nuggets she finds along the road, I can be assured I will be picking it up off my carpet in one form or another the next morning.

We walked on, Blondie proudly carrying her potato, Blue angling to get as close to it as possible without making Blondie growl because she knows that bring a yell from me.  Both continued to sharply scrutinize every inch of ground we covered, viewing the entire walk as one long stroll along a smorgasbord of wonderful smells and mysterious tastes.  And then Blondie saw the piece of moldy bread. Saw it before Blue did. And planted herself firmly in front of it as she tried to decide what to do with the potato that would allow her to also accommodate the bread. 

After much agonizing indecision, Blondie apparently concluded that the safest thing to do was bury the potato and bring the bread home. Maybe she thought a few days buried in the ground would make the potato softer and more savory. So she dropped the potato and started pushing dirt on it. Or, she would have pushed dirt had she actually had dirt to push. In fact, she made a little pile of pebbles right next to the potato.  She pushed once too often and the potato rolled down into a little gully.  Blondie looked at the potato’s final resting place, looked at the little pebble mound she’d created and decided the potato was safe from all comers. Then she turned back for the bread.

Unfortunately for her, Blue had not been idle all this time. In fact, Blue had carefully, silently and slowly been creeping up besides Blondie. While Blondie has been so carefully camouflaging the potato, Blue grabbed the bread. By the time Blondie looked for it, the bread was history and Blue was sitting there with a “What?” look on her face that proclaimed her innocence to all gullible enough to believe it.  Blondie continued to sniff around, sure it had to be somewhere. Eventually I explained to them that I did have a life and we’d have to go without locating the bread…which, if I were mean, I’d have pointed out to Blondie was already being digested in Blue’s stomach.

On returning home, I gazed in amazement at the pile of moose poop the melting snow had revealed on my lawn, thinking the moose must have saved up for months before depositing at my bank. Then two foot of snow fell.  April showers in Anchorage may not bring May flowers, but they do cover up the moose poop. And that’s a good thing.