Indoor Days with Outdoor Dogs, or What I Miss Up North

It’s been cold and rainy here in Austin the past few days, a type of misery we fair-weather fiends feel perfectly justified in whining about. It’s in the low 30s, and when out walking the dogs, giant ice-cold rivulets somehow manage to fall down the back of my neck. If I wasn’t awake before I started this morning slog, I certainly am now.

And then, a friend from Montana made an already morose morning even worse by sending this photo of Emma, her infamously hairy cowdog, on last evening’s sunset hike in the snow. I’m not certain where this photo was taken other than the general location of south-central Montana/northern Wyoming (find that on Google Earth), but it has that high-desert look of a dry winter. The juniper trees hold fast, sandstone bleeds iron red across the hills, and the sky melts with the last of the sun.

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Emma on a Sunset Hike

So here I sit, indoors, with two dogs that could dearly use some mountain hiking. They’re recovering from an evening on our bed by taking the first of what I’m certain will be many naps. Don’t get me wrong–I love living in Austin. I love not shoveling snow, eating breakfast tacos, availing myself of university libraries, and the general availability of things that you cannot find in small towns. But mountains….mountains I miss. I love heading out the door with the dogs tumbling underfoot, everyone scrambling up the first hill, through the fence, and then past the big rock. I miss the excited barks of dogs that know that they’re about to have an adventure, of sucking in air so cold that it cleans the funk out of your thinking. I miss pushing up hard inclines and scree with the reward of being able to look out over the valley, seeing for miles in any direction. I miss sagebrush, of knowing the Pearl will take point and that Bob will bring up the rear and probably wander off, striking his own path back home.

The rain has started up, again, and the dogs are in the midst of an epic cage match born of being young, being puppies, and not being able to exhaust them out of doors. I think I’ll use this as an excuse to turn Thanksgiving into a pie-baking extravaganza. At the very least, baking all of those pies will keep the house warm and smelling amazing. It might even help keep my mind off the fact that the weather is supposed to be this cold and dreary for some time to come.

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