Richard walks beside me.
I have my eyes on the sidewalk, looking for dangerous places to step (or not step).
He has his eyes on the environment, watching for animals. He often stops to point out animals’ tracks in the snow. The rabbits leaving clumps of four prints close together as they pause and then leap; the coyote prints could be mistake for large dogs ... except that dogs are on leashes with human prints nearby.
We are walking early. As the number of times we go increases, we get to know all of the people who take that route – the university student walking with skis over her shoulder; the serious biker (we can tell from his clothing) cycling to work; the university employee arriving at the heating plant with his lunch in his back pack.
Our collective timings are close – we can tell from where we meet the man on the bike, if we are early or late on our own walk. Richard always says good morning to the woman walking her dogs. Dog people must recognize each other. He laughs when he is past her, but he is not laughing at her. His mirth comes from the prancing of the smaller dog and he mimics it, his own hands up and his knees high and in little steps.
“That dog has attitude,” he says.
Yesterday was the last day of the deer season. Today Alberta hunters begin elk hunting in 212 -- the area 30 kilometres around Calgary.
The second last day of the deer season Richard and Chris shot two, one of them a large one. The large animals is hanging in Richard’s garage now, ready to be skinned. I am going out to the garage this morning so that he can show me the difference in the two sizes.
It would have been tough skinning the animals in weather that is -25.
We will see some highs of just under zero, which will make tomorrow and the next day perfect for peeling the skins away from the meat.
Thus endeth the beginning of my talk about winter walks.