Spirits in the Night


It's too cold to be out, at least for me. Six o'clock and around zero, diving. But Cinco seems to know when things are about, and indeed I saw a cow moose and her calf just down the trail a couple days ago; the fox is never far away, coyotes wail. He likes to go walkabout and barkabout about dark. I put up with this for only so long because it is dark and cold, and I want to sit by the fire with my dog.


I’ve found that going to the door and calling Cinco’s name into the night only encourages him to run a little further so as to protect us from whatever is certainly out there. It feels lonely and exciting how voices echo in January’s bright darkness. Not that far away, but just out of reach. For both of us.


I curse, lace up boots, add down, mittens, wool hat, headlamp, ski pole, and head out. It is beautiful, probably stunning, whether stars or moon on snow, or drifting down. Little wonder the dog is walkabout. I walk.


We have packed trails in a few directions, and it does not really matter which path I choose; sometimes it helps to walk quietly in the opposite direction from where the spirits lead. Almost without fail, I walk a hundred yards or two in any particular direction, and Cinco canters up saying, “Great, you are here! Let us go run in the wild! We will chase spirits. They are out there!”


Cinco, my friend, you have found me, and that makes me happy, but I think I am done running in the wild chasing spirits in the night, and besides, it is cold. I am so sorry I cannot run with you up the valley to the highest peaks. Here is a treat for a good dog. Let’s go home now and sit by the fire.