So the backstory for today’s post is we had about a foot of snowfall the other day, followed by another four inches the following day, with additional dustings here and there for good measure.  Add that all up and those of us who are lacking on the vertical plane find ourselves up to our knees in the white stuff.

But, as a dog mom, I was feeling guilt over Missy not having had the opportunity for an extended “W” due to said snowfalls.  And yesterday I was gone to Cedarburg, WI shopping with my Mom, sister, and  daughter from 4:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. which meant most likely Missy was horizontal the bulk of that time.  Given that I had indulged in an amazing lunch of onion rings and a beef sandwich while shopping, AND the incomparable, yearly indulgence in Amy’s Candy Kitchen caramel apple, I figured a good, long, make-your-heart-pound walk through the snow was called for.

We started by fetching the mail from the box and the remains of the caramel apple from the car.  That was the easy part.  I stuck them in the door to the house and we set off around the garage which was also easy since the plow shoves the snow back to the edge of the property so people can get to the wabeno every Saturday night for the sacred fire.

After stepping over the berm left by the plow, the going began to get a bit more dicey.  Still, there were footprints from our short walks in days past, so we followed those up to the point where we had typically looped around back toward home.  My decision point at this stage was “do we keep doing what we’ve been doing or do we push to do more?”  I really love the path that leads further up into the woods and makes a big loop around to connect to an actual trail out there.  I knew if we didn’t keep tromping up there, eventually it would be too snow-covered to make our way through until Spring, so the decision was made to forge ahead.

As we approached the part of the trail where it crosses over the road leading to the school, I wondered how deep it would be along the edges of the road since the plow would have pushed the snow from the road onto the shoulder which I would have to traverse.  As I was puzzling about how I was going to maneuver that, I noticed that a car had gone off the side of the road, slid into the very spot where I would need to traverse, and had obviously been pulled out by a wrecker or some other vehicle.  The deep tracks it left scraped all the snow away down to the ground.  Walking in the tracks, I was able to get up the side of the ditch and across the road without difficulty.  Again, much like in life, we oftentimes get assistance when we least expect it.

Upon reaching the other side of the roadway, I was again faced with a steep ditch filled with snow, but decided the direct approach would be best and just dug the heels of my boots in to make “steps” down to the bottom.  Those “steps” also served me well on the return part of the journey when I had to get up that side of the ditch.  When we put in the effort on the front end, oftentimes it serves us well repeatedly later on.

I headed off the road, down the deer trail, and up a steep hill in the woods.  Just as things look very different at night compared to how they look in the daytime, so they look very different when covered in snow versus when they’re green the other three seasons of the year.  I had to rely on a different set of skills to remain on the tiny deer trail we typically followed, now that it was covered in snow.  Just as in life, I kept looking for signs as to which was the way to go…a slight indentation in the snow indicating a path beneath, a broken branch where a deer had gone through prior to the snow, occasionally deer tracks on the path for a distance.

When I reached the crest of the hill, I had to stop and catch my breath.  Missy was still charging around me like a pup, belying her 11 years of age.  Here, again, was a decision point.  To keep going meant adding roughly double the distance to our walk.  To return down the hill would mean we could get at least that far again on another walk.  I was beginning to enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I could push myself to go, so we kept on.  The snow was deep enough that it covered up downed trees, so twice I tripped over a tree and had to steady myself back on my feet.    I did feel a bit smug that I still have enough balance so I didn’t fall after tripping.

Moving deeper into the woods, I noticed the various tracks from many critters who had walked the same area we now walked.  I recalled the dream I had that morning about a wolf and the many messages I gleaned from that dream.  I listened to the animals communicating with each other as I walked.  I marveled at the fact that all of this goes on day in and day out even when we humans pay no attention to it.  How much we miss when we’re focused on our list of Earthly things to do!

Finally we reached the place where the deer trail connected to the human trail, me via a more direct route than Missy who loves to charge all over the woods, smelling, doubling back, barging forward, more smelling.  We have two very different approaches to our walks together, with Missy probably putting on triple the miles that I do, but both of us enjoying our own method of taking the journey together.  Again, true of life, we can enjoy when our paths cross those of others, enjoy the parts of our journeys together, and enjoy the parts of our path that are in solitude while another goes in the direction that’s right for them.

Heading back on the human path, I focused on the patterns in the snow made by branches falling, snow falling off branches, winds blowing, etc.  Even though the path had not been walked until I came through, there were still a lot of markings in the snow.  When we stop looking just for a narrow range of something, a much greater picture opens up for us to see.

Once we got back to the house, Missy enjoyed a biscuit and I enjoyed the remains of yesterday’s caramel apple.  As I thought about our walk…and the resulting blog post you’re now reading…I was struck by how often the Universe reiterates our life lessons, giving us opportunity after opportunity to learn the lessons and progress to a new understanding of this amazing world in which we live.  Enjoy your journey!