Blue sky the colour of deep summer is worn like a canopy above the blinding white expanse of our field. The trees, the mountain, the scrub around the edges, all coloured white, abstracted by the snow to become suggestions of their true forms.
It snowed for two days, off and on, but enough to erase any sign anyone had ever walked here, or that snow machines had ever ripped up the surface, criss-crossing over themselves again and again.
We try to remember where our trail was. It was a great trail. Well worn in, taking us to the center of the field and then to the other side, to the mountain where we made other trails. I knew it would disappear with that snow and because we had not kept it open the days before, allowing the wind to have its way.
There are no ghosts of our former trail either, so we imagine the curve of the path. I think it went this way. And we strike out, finding it at first. Fresh snow comes up just past the ankles of my boots as we move along like barges churning up the formerly placid water of a harbour. I watch the snow spray out in great fans before my feet as Murdoch confidently strides ahead, and then I watch as he sinks deeper and then deeper and then he is leaping along through the snow like a dolphin following the wake of a boat.
When he stops he is nestled into the snow beneath the surface, it comes up past his shoulders and his head peers out over the top, scans the flat landscape ahead of him as though he is remembering, like I am, that this is where our trail was and why is it so deep here? I stop behind him and then wade out into the surrounding area, the snow up past my knees. Weird. The trail is gone.
I turn around, tromp back the way we came, the dogs muscling past me as though they know now, of course it’s this way. We try that way, and then another and finally I stop atop a mound in the snow that I know is the edge of the old beaver pond and contemplate the slope of the land around me, the way the snow ripples out from where I stand, sculpted by the wind over a spot that drops away somewhat drastically and has been filled to the brim with snow.
Our trail did go over here once. It did drop down with the land. I take a step and sink in up to my thigh. Murdoch takes my cue and leaps into the deep, swims about looking for solid footing and Molly waits patiently for one of us to find it. We don’t. And we turn again. Retrace our newly broken steps back the way we came over the blinding white and I tell the dogs that perhaps we will try again tomorrow.