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Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

I was trying to get the kitchen painted this morning, but Java was not cooperating. Her whining was getting on my nerves so I finished taping around the woodwork in the kitchen and decided to take a walk break (hopefully wear Java out) before I started in on the painting.

As I drove farther into the Rum River park, I discovered that the road I normally take wasn’t exactly plowed and the snow and water had frozen into some nasty ruts and ice. Not such a big deal if you are in a truck, but I was a little worried that I was going to get stuck in my Mini Cooper.

Mini Cooper

My Mini (photo obviously taken in greener, warmer times)

Mini Cooper

Java has her own little sweet pad in the back

It was a rough ride but, thanks to all those hard-earned, winter driving skills, we made it. The next challenge was taking a walk without falling on my butt. There wasn’t enough snow left for snowshoeing, but I sure could have used the grip of the teeth that are on the bottom of my snowshoes.

Icy PathDogs have to be on a leash in the park and I was worried Java was going to yank me off my feet, but she was a very good girl. When I had to carefully maneuver over an icy patch, I told Java to “heel” and she waited and walked by my side.

Rum River

Rum River with lots of snowmobile tracks

Java and I heard a hawk and a very, very loud owl, but we didn’t see them. I wish I would have had a recorder with me to capture all the birds sounds.

Java Listening

Java listening to the owl

 After our walk, I had to finesse the Mini back out of the park and head home to paint the kitchen.

Painting above the kitchen cupboards presented another bodily preservation challenge — not falling off the ladder.

Coyote Drawing

A couple weeks ago, while I was cleaning Luke’s and Murphy’s stalls, I heard Java barking outside the barn. 

I dropped my manure fork and ran out the back of the barn. I saw two coyotes in my pasture, staring at Java, who was still barking and moving towards them.

I walked quickly towards Java, calling for her to “Come!” Then frantically began yelling “No!” when the coyotes started running towards the woods at the back of the pasture, and Java took off after them.

Java is about 10 months old. She’s pretty good at following commands… eventually. She has a habit of taking her sweet time about acknowledging that you exist, and that you’ve actually told her to do something. 

Java Ignoring Me

Java ignoring me (I’m to her left).

And like most pups, Java is very playful. She assumes everyone is her friend. People look at her size and say, “Oh, at least she’s big. She’ll be okay.” 

Right… At the first sign of trouble, Java will flop on her back, legs up in the air, and pee all over herself. She’ll be just fine…

As Java ran towards the woods, I was screaming, “Stop!” “Java, Come!” “No! No! No!!!” 

Half way across the pasture, Java finally stopped, turned, and looked at me.

“Good girl. Come Java.”

She looked back towards where the coyotes had run. She looked back at me. Back towards the coyotes. Then finally turned and ran back to me. 

I knelt down, hugged her, petted her, told her what a good dog she was, gave her a treat, then took her in the barn and closed the door so I could finish cleaning stalls. By the way, Luke and Murphy never stopped eating their hay during this whole sequence of events. My heroes…

Since that episode, I always have treats in my pocket, and I call and reward Java for coming on command every chance I get. 

Java Treats

Handful of treats (with a little pocket hay mixed in). See Java in the background ignoring me?

Java after having a treat. Yum!

Java still doesn’t respond fast enough, even without the temptation of a coyote. I’ve seen another coyote since then, but fortunately, Java missed it.

After reading KB’s blog, Romping and Rolling in the Rockies, I’m thinking of following in her footsteps to train Java to not chase coyotes (or other animals). Like KB, I hate to resort to using a shock collar on Java when she chooses to ignore my calls to “come”, but if a shock collar will get Java to listen to me right away, it could save her life, and that would be worth it. 

My friend, Lynn, and I went snowshoeing yesterday. Granted, most the snow melted during a thaw a couple weeks ago and our most recent snowstorm didn’t drop that much of the fluffy white stuff so we could have just walked in our boots, but what fun would that have been?

Mary Snowshoeing

Me, simulating walking in snowshoes.

It was a beautiful, sunshiny day to be out in the woods and Lynn and I had a great time, so I was a little offended this morning when I was reading the Star Tribune newspaper and ran across an article called “Don’t the Twin Cities deserve their own Facebook 25?” by Chris Riemenschneider. If you’ve spent any time on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the chain posts of “25 Random Things About Me”. Mr. Riemenschneider felt the Twin Cities deserved its very own list of 25 notable things. I was enjoying the read until I got to number 20, which states that “They’re two of the dullest physical activities known to man, but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a lot of really nice cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails.”

What is the man talking about?! For crying out loud! Don’t ya know this is Minnesota? What the heck else are we supposed to do? Sit around and whine about the snow and cold?! Oh yeah, that is what a lot of people do. 

But like I said, Lynn and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk in the woods and meadows, with all the pretty snow, the birds a twittering, the sun hitting our faces, well, at least what was exposed of our faces. By the way, for those of my relatives who live in Arizona and California and wonder “How can you stand the cold?”

Lynn Snowshoeing

Look at the photo of Lynn. 

Winter Attire

And the photo of me.

How much skin do you see exposed? Exactly… Minnesotans are very proud of our ability to withstand freezing temperatures. Okay, so there are a number of us vacationing in Florida, Mexico or some such place at some point during the winter, but that’s just so we can come back and fully appreciate how great our variety of weather really is. 

I don’t cross country ski… yet. But I am looking for ski equipment so I can cross country ski next winter. And I’m studying up on skijoring so I can teach my dog to pull me around on my skis, and I don’t have to work so hard. 

We don’t have very much snow right now, but March is supposed to be Minnesota’s snowiest month. It would be so awesome if I could get outside a few more times and bore myself to death.

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