Water ripples. Here, there is a slight breeze. We’re in the middle of a heat spell, temperatures spiking into the nineties in New Hampshire and Maine. Lucy and Sam, my two standard poodles and I have hiked for nearly three hours. We’re hot. We’re tired. But I’d chosen this hike, carefully. We stand, now, at the edge of a mountain lake. Low growing pine trees ring the shore line. There are boulders, a small sandy beach. Sticking up out of the mist, Carter Dome towers above us. In the distance, cast in blue, the rest of Carter-Moriah range, draws itself against the sky.
I unclip the dogs packs, unclip their leashes. Unburdened, they wade and they drink, lapping, carefully. Because they are poodles or because the water is mountain cold? I unclip my own pack, leave it on a rock. I take off my wet shoes, my soaking socks. I’ve crossed the Wildcat River, three times, stepping on rocks, slipping, filling my shoes, soaking my socks. I strip down to my underwear, wade into the lake, submerge, emerge. Finally, I’m cool, so cool. On shore, knee deep in water, the dogs watch. This is one of those times, I want to read their thoughts, although, I’m told dogs don’t think. I’m the one who thinks, the one who anthropomorphizes, who sees in their faces both concern and amusement.