December 13, 2022

The first snow of the season!


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

-Lao Tzu


As I write this, the first snow of the season is falling.  It’s ten o’clock at night and Waldo and I are out on our last poop and pee walk for the night.  It’s 33℉, so the flakes are large and fluffy.  There’s almost no wind and they float gently down like puffs of goose down.  It’s only been snowing for the past half hour or so, so the accumulation is, so far, only about a half inch.  That’s just enough to cover the ground with a mottled, lumpy, white quilt — each patch bordered by scant green blades of grass and bits of brown fallen leaves poking through the whiteness.  The forecast has the snow changing to sleet, then rain, in the wee hours, so not much, if any, of it will survive until dawn.  But, for now, it covers the quiet end-of-day stillness in a soft blanket, swaddling all as if tucking it in for the night.

Waldo is prancing around, pulling at the end of the leash, trying to get the last bit of romp out of what’s left of the day.  He nuzzles the snow, no doubt looking for the right stick to carry, then charges out front and does a four-pawed slide just before slamming into the end of the leash.  After lifting a leg on a convenient nearby bush, he glares through the dim ambient light at a lump of something that just might be a rabbit.  He stares intently at it, without moving a hair in his sable coat, then approaches slowly, stalking his prey in a crouch.  Once close enough to see what is what, he straightens and moves off at a trot, realizing it’s nothing but a rock.  I could have told him the rabbits are all snuggled in their warrens, waiting for the weather to turn, but he wouldn’t listen.  Where’s the fun in that?

Although there are a few cars passing by on the streets, we meet no one else out in the snow.  The other dog “owners” have, no doubt, already done their last doggy-duty of the day, finishing before the storm hit.  Waldo and I don’t mind the cold, though, and like to be out in the falling snow.  I like it because it seems so peaceful and calming, but it’s come too early and I’m not yet prepared for it.  I feel cheated.  Because of my pinched nerve, I lost two months on the rail-trail – in late summer and early fall.  Sure, I witnessed those seasons on the apartment grounds, and it was quite beautiful here, but being back on the trail and witnessing how so much has changed (the temperature, the leaves in the trees and on the ground, the dying back of the undergrowth and now, the snow), I feel left behind — like Mother Nature moved on without me.  I was in absentia for far too long.

You know, no matter what happens in life, time rolls inexorably onwards, not caring a whit whether you’re present and aware or not.  Revisiting places once familiar and never forgotten, causes pain.  The pain of something lost.  Lost because there are events that live now only in your memory.  In their place is something new that feels somewhat foreign.  Once I came back to the trail, the forest seemed familiar, but not the same.  The dense greenery of late summer suddenly morphed into the colorful pastel hues of fall with a discontinuity.  It is all pleasant enough, but it feels like a non-sequitur.  What I observe now just doesn’t fit smoothly in with what I left behind.  There’s a gap in my experience of then and now like I was beamed into a sham replica of what was.

And now it’s snowing.

Waldo is out front, walking back and forth in S-turns, nose next to the ground, as if on a wide-area search for his next best entertainment.  The snow is wafting around him and slowly settling in piles behind.  The white blanketed ground has a beauty all its own, and he is into it.  He’s right.  The best thing to do is to enjoy what is right in front of me, instead of lamenting something that is not, even if it might have been.  If you can’t be in the place you love, then love the place you’re in.  Waldo is an ace at that.  I pick up a handful of snow and craft it into a loose ball.  I toss it at Waldo and it explodes into cloud of dust on his back.  He turns and looks at me as if to say, “What?”   I kick some snow at him and he lunges playfully at me — butt and wagging tail in the air, forelegs planted on the ground, a bright glint in his eye.  This soon evolves into a game of “Herd the Border Collie,” in a fog of flying powder.  Alas, he has skills, speed and agility I don’t have.  No matter, we don’t keep any kind of score and it’s win-win for fun.

Ah, the winter has its own delights to share.


It seems strange that all this snow will be gone tomorrow…

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