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The Mystery of Winter
"Brat" so named for his pranks!

The Mystery of Winter


          As I walked through the woods, kicking up the soft powder with each step, I inhaled the frigid air that seemed to crackle like ice on a lake. About two dozen teams of huskies were staked out on their stake-out chains, anxious to have their run. This was their weather; this is what they lived for.

          No, we weren’t in the Alaskan wilderness; we were in the North Eastern part of New Jersey where the Eastern mushers get together every week to run their dog teams. I was returning from the send off point, to see when it would be my turn to run my five dog team.

          I laughed to myself as I looked at team after team, excited, with their stake-out chains anchored to a tree at each end. Trees were the only thing that could hold a team of Siberian Huskies who wanted to run.

          As I continued to walk, I saw two teams staked out on either side of a small road, just big enough for a jeep to drive through. There were six dogs in each team. For some reason I stopped to look at them, after all, it is a pretty sight to a musher, but I had seen many teams that day; something compelled me to stop. Each dog was in his own world, pacing, sitting, or standing and sniffing the air. Then it happened, the breeze stopped, the world seemed to stand still. Like a soft blanket falling from the sky, the magic spell came over all twelve dogs.

          Each dog on both teams stopped what they were doing and both teams lined up, all sitting in perfect order. Team one was facing team two. It was as if the forest froze in time, not a sound except for an occasional bird high up in the pines, not a breath of air blowing. Each dog sat there waiting, but for what? Then, as if on cue, the first team started to “sing” as only Huskies can. Each dog on team one sang a perfect song, together, each dog using the same inflection. Their song traveled though the air, rising up to the top of the trees. The song began and ended at the exact same moment. I was breathless, afraid to move, awed. Then team two sang their song just as melodious as team one, but different. Each dog started at the same time, singing the same song and ending at the exact same second. Both teams sat facing each other for just a moment longer. Then the spell ended and each dog went back into his own world.

          I stood there amazed. I was no more than eight feet from the teams. I did not see any hidden signals between dogs as to what to do, when to do it, which would go first or what song to sing. Two unrelated teams that had never seen each other before, twelve individual dogs who knew what, when and how to have a group sing.

          I did not want to move, but I could feel that the spell was broken.  I looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed the magic spell, but I was alone. As walked back to my team, I felt blessed to have witnessed such a wonderful thing. My step and my heart were lighter and my love for these wonderful dogs had a new dimension.