March 07, 2023

I didn’t do it…


O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley


A polar vortex dropped down out of Canada and sat on us.  But it’s not sitting still.  It blows and blusters with sustained winds of up to 24 mph and gusts twice that.  I’ve been colder before, but it was high in the mountains, at 10,000 feet, or at 19,341 feet (atop Kilimanjaro), not at 450 feet in Massachusetts.  The air temperature is touching the low double digits below zero, and with all that wind, the effective temperature is as cold as -32℉.  Cold enough so my fingers are aching after walking Waldo for just ten minutes, even though they’re buried deep in thick winter gloves.  My forehead, nose and chin are numb and icicles are growing and tugging on my mustache.  Although Waldo prances around as we walk, without showing any evidence of distress, when we’re home, he’s in and out on the balcony and doesn’t stay outside for long.  We haven’t gone on the rail-trail for the two days now, it’s so cold, but we still have to go out for tank-emptying walks several times a day.

It’s not the woods, the grounds are manicured, but walking around the complex is still pleasant.  There are different kinds of plants around, many of which were planted here and not wild.  There are squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds and even the occasional groundhog and opossum (none of which are out and about today!).  The buildings are spaced far apart and the landscapers who care for the place keep things green (except the flowers and red trees) and trimmed, making short, but not too short, walks pleasant all year round.  Its biggest drawback is that we can’t go for long walks without going ‘round and ‘round and ‘round.  But that’s not an issue today.   There is just no way I’m going to take Waldo out in these temperatures for a two and a half hour walk on our usual jaunt.

Waldo takes to the lower level of activity pretty well.  He doesn’t get all the exercise he needs and is a bit restless, but he still enjoys being outside, if only for a few minutes, sniffing around, moving sticks here and there and meeting the other souls and their pets out doing the doggy duty.  His tail is up and wagging and he’s engaged in what’s going on around him.  He’s had to put up with worse, for longer, like when the pinched nerve in my back made it impossible for us to walk very far.  But as long as I “embrace the suck” in this cold and take him out when he asks, he does okay.  And he doesn’t ask often, maybe every couple of hours or so – thank God for the balcony!  He’s content to be in and out there in between our walks.

It feels strange to be so cold when there is so little snow about.  It was warm enough, since the last snowstorm, that most of it melted before the bitter cold swooped down from the arctic.  There are still some icy patches of white, where the snow was piled up in drifts, either by man or wind, but they aren’t many or deep.

Waldo and I like to chase around icy chunks of the snow, when we can find some, that were packed tight by plows and pushed to the side.  It’s kind of a soccer thing we do.  I kick some down the trail, bits of snow and ice flying off from the impact of my toe, and Waldo chases after it and tries to get a bite on it.  Each kick, and subsequent bounce and slide, shrinks the thing and eventually it’s small enough for Waldo to carry it around in his mouth.  Then the game is over and Waldo eats what’s left with crunching enthusiasm.  Today, when we do find a chunk, it’s welded hard to the ground and going nowhere without an acetylene torch to separate it from its bonds.  To be honest, I’m not all that eager to do anything to delay our return to the warmth and coziness waiting for us anyway, but Waldo does like to play.

Soon, we’re back inside and I put a looped video of a fire burning in a hearth on the TV.  It comes with sounds of popping and crackling, just like the real thing, and I swear it helps me warm up.  I even light a balsam fir scented candle, for odor-effect, to complete the ambience.   Waldo is in and out, but he does it without letting any of the cold air in.  After a bit of a rest, when Waldo isn’t outside, we kick around his giggle ball for a while, or I pull out the laser pointer and he chases after the little red dot.  As I write this, he’s curled up on his bed, chewing on a bone.

Tomorrow, the forecast is for weather in the high forties!  After two days in confinement, it’s gonna be great to be back in the woods again.

Maybe we’ll even do the full 10.5 miles of the rail-trail instead of our usual six…


Look what I found!

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