17 Days of Green – Quinn & Cinder

I’ve been blessed to know a lot of cool dogs in my life. When I married Andy, I lucked into having Quinn-dog in my life as well.

Quinn, deep in the lush green foliage of Valdez, Alaska, 2002.

Quinn was purebred Siberian Husky, but seemed more cat than dog, sometimes.

Quinn relaxes next to my green fitness ball - Gabriola Island, Canada, 2003.

Quinn moved with us from Denali, to Canada, where we spent the summer of 2003.

Quinn waits while I work at Good Earth Farm, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, 2003.

And he made the cross-country move to our new home here in New Hampshire.

The Mighty Quinn & our old-growth rhubarb patch, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2004.

Quinn lived to be nearly 13 years old, which is a good, long life for a large, purebred dog.

Quinn-dog enjoying the sun on our front porch in Canaan, New Hampshire, 2005.

We missed Quinn so much after he passed, we couldn’t think about getting another dog.

Five years passed and we were still dog-less. Until, at last, our friend, Carmen, needed a home for one of the Denali Park huskies in her care.

Cinder, Andy & Me (in my green jacket) sledding in New Boston, New Hampshire, January 2011.

Cinder is 100% Alaskan husky, which isn’t an officially recognized breed.

Rather, it’s a term for a northern working dog, adapted to pulling sleds through deep snow. Hence the long legs:

Cinder & his green tennis ball, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2010.

Cinder is amazing! He’s the only sled dog I know who plays fetch. He also plays soccer. And he’s coming along as a hockey player, too.

Cinder under the apple trees, Canaan, New Hampshire, 2010.

Cinder is unusually friendly and willing to please his humans. If he didn’t suffer from seizures, he would have made an amazing lead dog. I just know it.

Cinder & Andy amongst the evergreens along the Bold Coast, near Cutler, Maine, September 2011.

We are so grateful to have Cinder in our lives. He brings us boundless joy (despite his penchant for chasing skunks)!

Me & Cinder at the Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme, New Hampshire, 2010.

What about you? Do you have a special dog (or two) in your life?

17 Days of Green – Moss & Lichen

In Denali National Park & Preserve, it’s easy to fixate on the big stuff.

At a staggering 20,320″, Mt. McKinley is high on the list of things Park visitors hope to see.

The south-side view of Mt. McKinley from Byer's Lake, Denali State Park, Alaska.

Due to the Mountain’s height, however, it’s obscured by clouds nearly 70% of the summer.

So glimpsing the Park’s “charismatic megafauna” – moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves & grizzly bears – is next on the wish-list of most Denali Park visitors.

Grizzly bear near Toklat Ranger Station. (Photo by Kent Miller)

However, Denali is a National Park, not a zoo. The wildlife is wild, revealing itself in brief, unpredictable and often far-away glimpses.

Caribou near the Park road between Toklat and Polychrome Pass. (Photo by Kent Miller)

As a Park Ranger, I preferred to focus on the small, everyday stuff all around us. In a subarctic environment, that meant a lot of moss and lichen.

A deep bed of sphagnum moss along the Byer's Lake trail in Denali State Park, 2003.

I’m a firm believer that it’s important to slow down and notice the little things in life.
Little things can change your perspective, and surprise you with unexpected beauty.

Sphagnum moss is fascinating up close.

When you rush through your days, you risk missing the beauty right at your feet.

On every guided Ranger hike, I encouraged Park visitors to slow down and investigate the abundant moss & lichen they might otherwise overlook.

'Old Man's Beard' is a kind of lichen usually found growing on trees.

(So, this would be 'Old Man's Mustache' lichen, then?)

Volunteering with the Park Kennels 3 winters, I had the honor of naming a litter of pups.

Sled dogs are named thematically after Park features such as mountains, rivers & wildflowers. (Photo by Kent Miller)

My choice for a litter theme? (Wait for it…) Lichens!

Dusty, of the Denali Park lichen litter. (NPS photo)

Pixie takes a break during a sled dog demonstration at Park HQ. (NPS photo by Jess O'Connor)

Shadow, enjoying her view from the Wonder Lake Ranger Station. (NPS Photo by Bridget Borg)

For me, learning to enjoy the little things makes all the difference.