Hard frost. Temperature at 19 degrees Fahrenheit, with a reported “feels like” effect in single digits. Brrr! But the sun is coming up, and Sarah and I are going out, meeting neighbor friends Therese and Buddy and Mollie for a dog walk — cross-country, up the wash, back down the road. I bundle up. Sarah, of course, is always ready.
(My camera battery was low, almost but not quite at the point where it needed to be removed and recharged, so the camera stayed home on the 19-degree morning, and photos today are a composite from various other mornings.)
For the duration of our winter stay here, Therese has loaned me her extra Camelbak©, a handy lightweight backpack with its own waterbag, complete with flexible drinking — or squirting — tube. No need to mess around with a bottle of water, either carrying it in the hand or having to extract it from a backpack and uncap it for every drink. The gentle squirting function makes it possible to refresh dogs, too, as they quickly learn to catch water in their mouths. I also packed along dog treats for Sarah and, for myself, a fresh lemon and plastic-sheathed knife for cutting the lemon. Water is necessary in the desert and at high altitudes but not always sufficient. As I learned from my experience in the Dragoon Mountains, electrolytes can be crucial, and juicy fresh lemon does the job.
Buddy and Mollie have accepted Sarah, and she is comfortable with them now, too. The three don’t engage in much direct interaction (after the initial tail-wagging and you-know-what-sniffing), but that’s okay. (Parallel play is good enough.) On our first walk together, Sarah took on the role of Boss Dog, but Mollie has gotten over being intimidated. Now the girls take turns — though with Mollie challenging Sarah regularly, my old girl might just be content soon to play second fiddle. We'll see!
Nothing is blooming yet, but the desert is always interesting nonetheless, and we did spot new green growth -- not only the thistle below but other plants that will have flowers in a month or two.
Cowpaths make the land seem homelike, domestic, while a bleached bone, a memento mori, says something very different. To my great satisfaction and gratitude, Sarah obeys the “Leave it!” command immediately when tempted to sniff around a small cave where javelina den up for the day. Good dog! Notice how the wind is blowing her ears and tail, too.
Last year Therese and I and her dogs — without Sarah — were out one morning for two hours. I like having Sarah as part of the larger pack on walks this year, but it’s pretty clear that one hour is more than enough for her.
She keeps up and has a wonderful time, but on our first cold morning, when we got back to the cabin she was barely in the back door before she crashed.
Well, I don’t mind a quiet interlude myself and sit down for a few minutes with poetry books to read. Another winter day has started well in Dos Cabezas.