This placed as a finalist last year in the Writers' Union of Canada post card competition.
|Soho, Nitro and I - winter 1995|
The cacophony of hundreds of crazed sled dogs clipped to their drop-lines sets me on edge. Odours of urine-soaked straw and thawing ground chicken hang in the air. Like a tongue poking a sore tooth, my mind stubbornly returns to the fear file. Lose the team; dog fight; entangle with another competitor…
When I stood on the shore of this lake years ago, I saw an image that has been with me ever since. In the hazy light of dawn, I watched the orange bib of a musher slowly vanish in the ice-fog. His team silently took him to a magic land. It was the most beautiful thing I had seen. I wanted to be him. Now I’m back to run my first race.
I visit with each of my six dogs and hide the jitters. They take on my emotions. Apollo, my gangly black leader, shoves the top of his head into my stomach. His habit reminds me of a photo I saw of a couple with their foreheads pressed together – a stolen, intimate moment.
Denali is hiding under the truck. I kneel in the dirty slush. “You’re gonna make people talk.” He looks out at me with soft brown eyes then crawls forward. I get a wet kiss.
Dainty Soho is shooting coy glances at Nitro. Tarzan is grinning at me with all his teeth showing. And Blaze is shamelessly on her back, legs spread.
I look at my team and realize I’ve already found the magic land.