The quick snowstorm with its giant fluffy flakes took a toll on the newest and littlest arrival from friends, a recently weaned bum Icelandic lamb named Moses. He was the only one without a mother nursing him and knowing to bring him in out of the worst of the weather. Dusan brought him inside, wet and alarmingly too weak to raise his head. I went to heat water bottles and buckwheat bags and when I came back Dusan had wrapped Moses and Jack Russell Zora (you’ve seen her here before) in one huge towel. She wasn’t clear on the necessity, but she stayed quietly and settled in because we asked her.
Raising the deep body temperature of a creature takes more time than is comfortable, and even with the layers of blankets and warmers we were grateful to have her there. We couldn’t offer him warm milk until the temperature in his mouth was warmer than my finger and it took more than an hour. When we moved Moses into a box from my lap she went in too. And when Sasha stuck her nine month-old German Shorthair nose into the box, Zora bit her, twice. Not an irritated snap but the teaching grab and hold that says, “You WILL know that this lamb is mine, and what is mine WILL NOT be messed with.” And she curled back down around this thing that was hers.
Twenty-six years ago this day I and others were in a climbing accident where hypothermia took lives. I don’t tend to know how the anniversary will find me, and usually it comes and goes quietly. Most years I like to make or give or donate something to mark it. This year I found myself on the mudroom floor, arms full of hot water bottles, towels, limp wet lamb and small protective dog. Two hours, one dog, and half a cup of warm milk and molasses later we had shiny eyes and popcorn legs out again in green grass and returned sunshine. I mark this year with warming, tending and interspecies shenanigans. It’s all good.