for each of us

The days were becoming quite short, and long nights meant cold starts. So far we had seen one night of snow in the Victoria Harbor, but with just a little elevation, it was a different story all together. The Highlands had been covered for weeks.

It was going to be perfect, almost 10 days up in the woods to rest and recover.

. . . Chopping wood, morning fires, walks, reading, quiet contemplation, and relaxation . . .

The best part was that Roman & Lucy knew just what to do. They knew breakfast. They knew dinner. They knew where to wander, where the leashes were, and what happens next.

We arrived home late at night to Roman's howl.

"Is he scary?"

"Nope, just a big bark."

"I'm still a little scared."

"It's ok, just follow me."

Pretty soon the big bark turned into a big head leaning against our hips, lifting our hands with his wet nose, meanwhile doing the whole body wag.

"Welcome home! I'm Roman & I'm so happy to see you. I'm here to take care of you. I'll take you to over to my friend Lucy. This is where I sit, & that's where she sits. We're very happy you're here. Can we go have dinner please?"

We found the food, fed our new best friends, and made our way inside.

Wake up, chop wood, light the fire, make a coffee, contemplate the day, head out for an adventure. I knew a few of the fire roads, but the rest was very new, especially with a fresh coat of snow. Fortunately Roman & Lucy knew exactly where they were going.

About an hour or so later we started to make our way home and our fearless leaders took off.

"Come back!"

"It's ok, they do this sometimes. We'll just meet them back home."

Sure enough as we rounded the corner to approach the cabin, first came the howl, then head to the hip, wet nose, & body wag.

Thoughts on dinner. Thoughts on lunch. Thoughts on a year gone by. Thoughts on the year ahead. Tea. Toast. This retreat had perfect timing.

By late afternoon we were ready for another wander, this time up Lone Tree Hill.

Leashes off & they were gone.

Calling, calling, calling & no response. We must have been too slow for the sort of adventure they were looking for.

Up the hill, down the hill, 'round the hill, and there was still no sign. One, two, three more loops of Lone Tree.

It had been dark for a little while & we needed to make it back.

"I betcha they'll be waiting for us on the front porch when we return."

"Me too."

With hopeful anticipation we rounded the corner. No howl. Maybe they're hungry & in the kennel. No head to hip.

Ok, well apparently this had happened before. Let's just put out a few big bowls of food in case they come back in the middle of the night.

Knowing that this had happened before made it possible to fall asleep, but it was definitely one of those sleeps where you wake up and hope everything is ok for most of the night.

After a thoughtful night, morning finally came. No sign, only about 12 inches of fresh snow.

Chop wood, tea, toast, contemplate.

We retraced our steps to lone tree hill. Up, down, and around. Calling, calling, calling as we ollowed the path from the backside. Maybe this is another way home. Nope. Back up the hill, up, down, and around. Still no sign.

Back home we called Kingston.

"Honestly guys, please no worries. They've done this before. They'll be home soon. Just keep a bowl of food out for them because they'll be famished when they come back.

Chop wood, tea, toast, contemplate.

Thoughtful night, early morning . . . are they home?

They must be. Over night? They must be home now.

Food in bowl, still no sign.

Thermos, extra clothes, and dog kibble, we're sending out our search party.

Can we still enjoy the trees, the birds, the snow, and the breeze? Can this still be a peaceful time, even with thoughts that bring us down to our knees?

Focus and connect. Connect and focus. Are you out there? Where?

Calling. Calling. Calling. I'm here. Are you there? Where?

Around the corner, up the path, and still now howl. Crawl into the kennel & still no sign. Full bowl of food.

It snowed all day & all night.

It snowed all day & all night for yet another night.

Chop wood. Tea. Toast. Contemplate.

Searching, seeking, searching, seeking.

Are you still out there? Con - fi - dence . . . Con - fi - dence . . . Con - fi - dence . . .

Searching soon became a walking meditation.

Searching without became seeking within.

We spoke with neighbors, passers by, friends, and family. What do we do?

"When will we see you?" A passionate cry.

Friends, family, and passers by, all with positive thoughts, hope, and prayer for safety.

When? Where?

It was Christmas morning. Lucy came to the door? Lucy came to the door!

Come inside! You're here! Christmas morning? Christmas morning!

Have some eggs. Have some sausage. We need to fatten you up!

Where's Roman? He must be close behind. Check the kennel.

In the hay. Roman! You're home.

***

It was a five night journey through the snow for each of us.

***

Rest well.