Before supper I took an hour long walk in the swamp. I left the old dog at home because his legs and indoor feet can't go far. It was just me and wolfie. A rarity. It was beautiful down there. I looked up from the tracks I was following to be confronted by a wall of camouflaged. Tamarack, covered in moss and snow, creating a screen that my eyes had to adjust to see through. Most the time that we were down there I couldn't see Anu. Several times I thought she had left me to hunt on her own. But then I would stop, be quiet, and hear the jingle of her collar. I made a game of trying to find her. My eyes scanning the silver greys and greens of the trees and snow. Then she would emerge; standing still, her eyes meeting mine... every time only several feet away. Her grey and white coat blending perfectly with her surroundings. She is beautiful. Especially when I catch glimpses of her so completely in her element.
We found deer beds, three, and snow snuffled up where green shoots of grass poked through. That life hides beneath this cold layer of winter, surprises me every time.
There is something strange and wonderful that I love about the swamp that I am only able to visit in winter. It is another world. A sheltered place that swallows you up and keeps you hidden once you break past the brush that separates it from the rest of the world. I stayed out there much longer than I planned. I couldn't pull myself away. We followed deer and rabbit tracks; looping, criss-crossing, pulling us further from home. I kept feeling this sense of a secret place-- always behind me. I stopped often, turning around to admire where I had just come from. Wanting to back to it, but curious to see what was beyond the next bend, what was beyond a cluster of spruce, heavy and bent with snow.
We follow our paths thinking that we are headed somewhere in particular only to find that we have wound up in a place that we never planned for. Never intended. Always looking back, always pulled forward.
When I finally emerged, reluctantly, from the quiet enclosed world of the swamp, Anu stood waiting for me. Walked easily by my side through the woods and to the field where she took off running to a boulder where she stood, watching me, watching everything. The sky a darkening pink. I trudged through the hard crusted snow behind her effortless sprint back to the house. Slowly. Not wanting to leave any of it behind.