November 19, 2019

You still there , Old man? You wash away?

You can have good times with anyone, but it’s really different and much more interesting when you look at how you get through the bad times with someone.

-Kenya Barris


It’s raining, a little windy, and chilly – the temperature is in the high forties. This will not stop our daily walk.

I’m dressed in a waterproof rain jacket with hood and pants. I’m also wearing waterproof hiking shoes, although the water rolling off the pants does get onto the top of the shoes and then runs into my socks at the laces. Underneath the rain suit, I’m wearing two light jackets and, on my hands, I’m wearing a pair of cloth gloves – not enough to keep my hands dry, but enough to keep them warm. I am prepared.

Waldo was born prepared. His coat is dark and heavy enough to keep him warm. The hair’s natural oils make the water roll off them quite well and, though he does get wet, a quick doggy-shake dries him enough so that he doesn’t get really soaked, even when still in the rain. His feet are thick with pads and hair so that they’re not uncomfortable except in the coldest of temperatures. I can’t really tell any difference between how he walks in the rain and how he walks on warm dry ground.

It’s raining when we start our walk, throughout the full 5.5 miles, and after we’re done. It’s a typical Massachusetts rain, more of a drizzle really. There is a breeze, but it’s nothing like the gusts that thunderstorms produce, winds so strong, they can wad a light plane up as if it were made of paper — I’ve flown Cessnas in this drizzly kind of storm without trouble. Fortunately, thunderstorms don’t usually last that long and we can wait them out and time our jaunts around them. This storm will last all day and into the night, but all we have to worry about is getting wet.

I have been in rainstorms in Colorado where the water was coming down so hard that I couldn’t even see the white line in the middle of the road, let alone the edge of the road, through the windshield of the car I was in with the wipers going full tilt. There was nothing to be done but to stop and wait until the storm passed. They call these torrents gully-washers, for obvious reasons. I’ve also watched a wall of rain approach my house in Ethiopia during the rainy season. It came toward me like a thick, well-defined curtain of water, going from little or no rain to a downpour that rumbled the building’s corrugated tin roof. Within minutes, the trickle of water that ran across the unpaved road that led to the house became a river thirty or more feet wide and several feet deep, rushing in a rapids so hard that it was impossible to cross. We were stuck where we were for hours, until the storm passed and the water level fell.

But this storm is nothing like those. It’s just a nuisance. And, being dressed as I am, it isn’t that uncomfortable. I don’t think Waldo likes it much, but dealing with it is preferable to not going on a walk. He loves our walks, especially down the rail-trail. The rain will not melt us.

As we start, Waldo charges up front, as he always does, to the end of the leash. He seems to be pulling more than he usually does, and, even though I’m trying to train him out of this, I cut him some slack. I want to get this over with so I can go home, get dry, warm up and relax. This will not be a walk I can enjoy, but one to endure. I put my head down so the rain doesn’t hit me in the face and walk fast with as long a step as I can manage. The distance falls behind us, slowly building to our usual trek. Waldo’s not sniffing every nook, cranny, and lump in the ground as he usually does, but he’s prancing along, tail up and wagging, clearly enjoying it. I’m not paying as much attention to my surroundings as I usually do, but, when I’m not focusing on fighting the cold wet weather and focus on the nature around me, I see there is a beauty to bad weather.   It would be a lot easier to appreciate through a window in a warm, dry house, however. Waldo’s happy, but he, too, seems grateful when we return to the car.

This is just one more story, a good one, although a dreary one, we add to the annals of our shared experience.

Rain? What rain? Catch up, will ya?

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