A Forty-Below Night


He lived eighty-three miles from Fairbanks

In a log cabin alongside a nameless creek

It was his tenth year living in the place

To survive out here you couldn’t be weak

He made his meager living trapping fur

His line stretched for over a hundred miles

Up at daybreak, stoke the fire, and leave

Was his daily routine, done Alaskan style

His snowmobile had long ago broken down

Now he relied on his dogs and rickety sled

A hardship he had no way to overcome

As he bundled up, toboggan on his head

Today was no different from any other

As he walked out that lonely cabin door

He had forty-four miles of line to check

Overnight at a line cabin as done before

The sky was overcast, gray, foreboding

In the air, he thought he could smell snow

It made no difference no matter what it did

He had fur to harvest, he had to go

The first set held a frozen stiff marten

The next one had been sprung by a lynx

The next one was also sprung and empty

He began to wonder if he was jinxed

It started slowly, a flake here and there

The wind picked up, the temperature dropped

He pulled his parka tight around his face

Miles ahead was the cabin, his last stop

The wind pushed snow slashed his face

It was so bad he could just barely see

Old Joe, his lead dog on his dogsled

Plodded on, knew where he was supposed to be

With a sigh of relief, he saw the cabin

Pulled to a stop, shoveled snow from the door

Got a fire going, then unhitched the team

The brutal wind ravaged his body’s core

The thermometer over his bed was broke

Instinctively, he knew it was forty below

The wood stove barely took off the chill

He was so tired his actions were slow

Braving the cold, he fed his hungry dogs

Then for himself made a very meager meal

A cup of coffee helped to warm him up

It was so cold his feet he couldn’t feel

Then an idea formed in his exhausted mind

And outside to his bedded down dogs, he went

Old Joe, Sam, and Little Susie he got

Took them inside where the night they spent

Wrapped up in his blankets, dogs by his side

To some, it would be a bizarre sight

But on a snowy, windy, forty below eve

To survive, it had to be a three-dog night!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022