December 17, 2019


It has not yet begun to snow.

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

-John Steinbeck


We were hit today with the first real storm of winter. It started in the wee hours of the day with cold temperatures in the high teens. It slowly warmed to the low thirties and then sparse small-flaked snow wafted slowly toward the ground. By the end of the day, there was an accumulation of four to five inches – the estimates over the next two days is for as much as fourteen inches. Quite a storm for so early in the year.

Waldo and I hit the rail-trail just after noon. The temperature was thirty degrees and there was very little wind. My step, at first, was forced and (for me) fast, trying to build up a little body heat. Waldo was more energized than usual and was quite happy with the slightly faster pace. He is pretty good at not pulling at the end of the leash now and we’ve had several walks where I didn’t shorten his leash even once. But today, he just wouldn’t settle down. He was bouncy and tugged incessantly at the leash – not terribly hard, but more than I like. It’s a bit of a catch twenty-two because, although I want to train him to not pull at the leash, I do love to watch him get excited and have such a good time on our walks.

I never dread going to the rail-trail, but I do worry about whether I will be miserable halfway through our two-hour-and-twenty-minute trek because I didn’t dress right. and a little experience, however, makes it possible, sometimes with layers, to anticipate what I’ll need and I always end up being grateful for being out in nature, with my friend Waldo, despite the weather. There is also the satisfaction of, once we are done with the long-walk, settling in my beloved chair, back reclined, legs up sipping on a warm cup of cappuccino, Waldo curled up on the couch next to me.

Later in the day, while out on one of our half-mile poop and pee walks, the snow, which barely started as we were finishing on the rail-trail, has accumulated to more than ankle deep. It’s dark out and I’m all wrapped up in my heavy parka (with hood up), fleece jacket, heavy gloves, gaiters and water-proof boots. It’s slow going and the newly-fallen snow is deep enough that I’m huffing and puffing a bit while blazing a trail through the stuff. My breath steams in the light of my headlamp and fogs up my glasses. It brings back memories of playing in the winter-lands of my childhood – skiing, sledding, snowball fights and all the rest.

Waldo is out of control. He runs, does gazelle leaps, and rolls in the snow — all the while gulping down mouthfuls of it. He rushes to the end of the leash and pulls at it fiercely, sending me the message, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” I can almost hear him shout, “Wheeeee!” as he races about. This dog really loves the winter. Maybe he, too, is reminded of his earlier time as a puppy on the farm in Pennsylvania where he was born. I’ll probably regret it later as it’s breaking training, but I give him more slack than normal about pulling on the leash. It seems a crime to interfere with his fun, and I can’t help but relive something of my own rollicking in the snow as a kid while watching him. I, too, once ran through and jumped into piles of the cold white fluff, made snow angels and ate it by the handful. But, God knows, there is no way I can actually reenact my early carefree wintery joy – the spirit is more than willing, but the flesh shouts, “No way! Try it and you’ll regret it!” I’m more than content just watching Waldo.

We get back to our building and I am grateful for the fact Waldo has not been able to find a stick under all this snow. He, with a lot of patience and work, has gotten better about dropping his sticks before we go in, but tonight, there are no sticks to drop. Or apples. Or pears. Guess I won’t have to worry about that again until the spring thaw.

We go inside and I strip off my clothes, clean up the snow and water on the floor that has fallen off my coat, pants and boots. Waldo, of course, has already shaken off the snow on his coat and dried up his paws on the carpeted floor in the hallways leading to the apartment. The mess is all mine. I send Waldo off to bed and settle back into my recliner to do a little writing before I follow.

Winter is here and today has set a pattern that I’m sure we’ll be following for the next few months.

Still snowing. Waldo is in love.

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