I am momentarily trapped in one of those “when it rains it pours” patterns. I’ve got some really terrific projects I’m working on, but (despite my best efforts) they all sort of collided at once, landing in a big ol’ heap on my desk. So I’ve been left bobbing along, doing my best to keep my head above water. Which is why the pig-pen here has seen a little neglect lately.
More often than not, working as a freelancer wins in the advantages category. I highly recommend it. That said, I know there will be times when I work late every night and put in a full weekend to boot. This is one of those times. So when I was having dinner with friends last Friday night and talk of a Sunday afternoon dog skijoring outing came up, I thought it would be a perfect break in a weekend otherwise spent chained to my computer. “Count me in!” I said, a little over enthusiastically.
As Sunday approached, I was feeling more behind than ever. Momentary waves of panic swept over me. Just keep bobbing, I assured myself. Just keep bobbing. I left a message for my friend Julie, explaining that due to an increasing grip that was taking hold of my chest, I needed to bail out of skiing. She promptly replied with an e-mail. “I reject your rejection,” she wrote. “A couple of hours in the great outdoors will be perfect for relieving tightness in the chest.”
She had a point. I called her back and agreed with one condition. “Give me Juliette and we have a deal.” I countered. See, the thing about skijoring with Julie is that you have your pick of nine dogs. She and her husband Charly own a team of Siberian huskies. Juliette is the current matriarch of their kennel. At thirteen years old, she has put in her share of trail miles. In people years, this puts her well into her nineties. But you’d never guess it. Her enthusiasm to run still shines bright. She is inspiration at it’s finest. But here’s the real kicker. She’s also lost an eye to glaucoma. Which is where my special admiration for her comes in. If old Juliet can run the trails with one eye, so can I! I hope I remember this wisdom when I’m ninety.
As is often the case when undertaking an excursion with Julie and Charly, there was no shortage of logistical details. We grouped up at Julie and Charly’s place to load skis and skijoring gear into their Prius. Julie was already up at the kennel, harnessing dogs and preparing to send our young friend Jack off on his maiden solo voyage with the team. Meanwhile, Charly escorted our gang of 6 skijorers in their Suburban to a nearby logging road where Jack would meet us with the team. After having got Jack off and running, Julie would follow behind in the Prius with the gear. Once all reunited, we would dole out the dogs and be on our way down the trail.
Jack and company arrived at our meeting spot without a hitch, but as we were moving the dogs from the sled to the picket line we had staked out, I couldn’t help but notice that there was no Juliet. Before I could even shrug off my disappointment, Julie pulled up in her little blue Prius with Juliette riding shotgun. I laughed and felt the grip on my chest loosen. This is what best friends are made for.
One by one, we hooked up dogs to skiers and shot off down the trail. Juliette and I set forth onto a quiet trail of blue skies, full sun, and double digit temps. It took approximately 53 seconds before I was struck with the “this is so perfect, I never want this to end” sensation. So instead of thinking of the ending, I focused on the shadows in the snow, and on Juliette’s back right paw that would kick out every eight or ninth stride, and on the cool wind that mingled with my warm skin. I focused on being alive in the woods. Then I wondered how Julie got so smart.
We met up as a group at our predetermined turn-around point for water and a rest. Just when I thought things could in no way get any better, my friend Ted tossed me a salted nut roll. How did I manage to get such smart friends? We turned back and Juliette stayed true to the end. When it came time to hook the team back up for their trek home, she was right in there, barking in anticipation. I held her back and assured her that riding home in the Prius was the better choice. She turned to look at me through her one bright eye and flooded me with her enthusiasm. And that was it, I knew it would all be okay. I can keep on bobbing.