When I saw the sun suddenly break through the clouds after hours of gloom, I immediately whistled for Piper and we headed to the little pond.
There were no other cars in the little parking area, so Piper was off-lead almost immediately, delighted with what must have been a dizzying abundance of scents in the wet air. Everything was so green. Just breathing felt revitalizing.
The sun was low, and light glistened across the pond and through the trees. I tried to cajole my little point-and-shoot camera into capturing the magical quality of what I was seeing, but it was really asking too much.
I told Piper to "go ahead!" while I stopped to take pictures, but instead of racing off as she usually does, she started to run then stopped in her tracks, with a truncated "whuff" that sounded exactly like she had said, "What the...??"
Piper was staring into the woods, toward the pond, about forty feet away. I thought maybe one of the recently-arrived ducks or geese had taken off suddenly, startling Piper, but I could see nothing unusual.
And still Piper stood. Her body language was so odd, I didn't know what to think. She wasn't frightened, but she was clearly uneasy. She wasn't moving to explore whatever she had sensed, but she couldn't just ignore it, either.
Now I'll just say at this point: I am almost always comfortable in the woods. And when I'm not, I pay attention to that feeling. Frankly, I feel far more wary about other humans than I do about any other creature I am likely to encounter. I do keep my eyes open for moose, bear, and coyote when I have Piper with me, only because I don't know how she would react. My guess is, "with wild enthusiasm!" Which would not be helpful.
But yesterday at the pond, I didn't see anything, and I didn't hear anything, and Piper was acting in a very peculiar manner. And with no enthusiasm whatsoever. Her uneasiness began to make me uneasy, so I called her to me quietly and she came right away.
A couple of times when she did that I stopped and turned back, listening for the sounds of something - a dog? a moose? - moving in the woods. Nothing. It was, to be honest, creepy. We were probably less than a half-mile from the parking area, and that walk took ages.
I still have no idea what spooked Piper, but Piper certainly spooked me.
I'll have to ask around a little bit the next time I'm in town. If there's a Loch Ness Monster in the little pond, or a Bigfoot in the woods, I'd hate to be the last to know.