We follow an old path through the woods, marked heavily by deer tracks as well as our own footprints. Where deer prints diverge from ours, Barley investigates, nose to the ground.
The trail opens into the hollow and we pause, listening to the silence. It seems to permeate everything until it's broken by a song bird and then by distant crows. When we continue, a dry creek bed leads us through a broad valley, covered with dried remnants of last summer's wildflowers and on to the edge of the lake.
Barley wades in, boots and all, undeterred by a strip of ice that intersects the cove,
eases into the frigid lake and treads water, pivoting slowly and taking in the whole scene.
Then he's out. He shakes, the motion starting at the tip of his tail and working forward to his nose. Suddenly, he's a race horse, running in a wide circle over the loamy soil and through the dried flowers. He was born for this.
Barley's a little like the birds of the air; he doesn't worry about what he's going to eat (Beneful Dog Chow) or wear (blue boots) or what's going to happen tomorrow. We'd do well to have that kind of trust.
Do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Jesus/Matthew 6:25, 26