Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Waiting for the Snow

iStock_000004021694XSmallGrey clouds graze the mountaintops as they slowly creep into the valley, fingers extended toward the east with dark and ominous reach, the promise of a storm. There is stillness to the air, a smell of snow, marked by gusts of stinging wind that redden the cheeks. Hands tucked into my warm gloves tell me with an ache in my finger joints, that snow and freeze are coming. I wanted to get out early today, before the cold wrapped its icy cloak around my world.

A special kind of foolishness has compelled me in the past to make the drive to my favorite trail when the roads are slick from a freezing snow–New snow, beautiful snow, beckoning like a siren’s song and speaking to the wild of my heart that feels the need to pay homage to the pristine blanket of white.

This morning I am alone on the trail, with a faithful Labrador that runs circles around me and searches with unrelenting fervor for the great treasure of abandon tennis balls. My boots beat against a trail still recovering from the floods in the fall. It is scarred by deep rivulets in places where the water is not supposed to go. Weeks of constant hiking boots and dogs have hardened the ground and worn away some of the more damaged places. I wonder if the large cracks will fill with snow and harden with ice, somehow healing the trail for spring.

I am a hardy woman, giving myself to winter’s descent, in a walking dance to Persephone. Anticipating the ice of winter with its lacy beauty that will web and string its way through the now dried grasses, and adorn the sage with Snow Queen crowns. I try to commit to memory the trees that stand in silhouette, their gnarled hands against infinity and palms toward the heavens, waiting for the snow. All the seasons in this place are my church, allowing for long conversations of the heart, adoring and worshiping the mountains and the stillness of a lake that reflects the rocky giants in its mirror.

Strong legs carry me around the lake and back to the farmer’s ditch, which is mostly empty now, save for the small pools of water that provide a moment’s reprieve for a couple of  geese. As I age, I find myself rushing toward these images; drinking in their splendor  with an unquenchable thirst, while simultaneously feeling myself receded from the vitality of such moments. I am an older woman now, standing at the edge of my winter, punctuated by morning reverie in this temple of impending snow.


Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Snog And Dog– Life Lessons From a Labrador Retriever

English: yellow labrador retriever in the snow...
A grey and windy storm lumbered into the foothills and left 6 inches of wet, spring snow. At 9:00 this morning it was still snowing, but the dog nudged my hand and did his doggie talk version of “it’s not a work day, so get your ass out of bed and let’s play.” A sane person, even a reasonably sane person would have told the dog to go lay down and made themselves a cup of tea. I am not a sane person—not on snow days and even though it’s the weekend I know that I have to get up, put on my snow pants and boots and go do “snog.”

The word snog is a combination made-up word, for which there is not another word, and that’s why it had to be made up. Snog equals snow and dog, thus snog. But snog is not just a description of the dog. It is, in fact, a state of mind and heart of both dog and person. In my estimation, snog is the most visceral experience of snow that you can get. It is prayer wrapped in great celebration. However, I found out that snog is a real word that has nothing to do with snow or dog it is a verb: 1. snog – touch with the lips or press the lips as an expression of love, greeting.  Okay, well my “snog” means to kiss nature then and be kissed back by nature and it has to do with a labrador retriever!

Eighteen degrees out and still snowing, the roads were snow packed and icy. The clouds hung low and tight next to the mountains creating the feeling of being in an ice dome instead of in open country. The snog, named Jeter paced in the back seat while we drove 10 miles under the speed limit to Dry Creek Trail. Past the Baptist church at 70th with all its dire warnings printed on their sign board; past the black cows that didn’t look their usual apathetic, oblivious selves encrusted in ice and snow; and past Mallard Pond Drive where the trust fund baby of a major seed company lives and does the best Christmas decorations in the county. We drove until we slid into our left turn and pulled into the empty parking lot at the trailhead.

Oh boy: snog and a trail all to ourselves. I opened the back door of the car for Jeter, who flew from the back seat to the gate, paws barely touching the ground. There was no one else around. A perfect snog day. Six inches of fresh snow and a trail unblemished by the sane people who lingered late in bed or the coziness of their kitchens. Snog ran onto the trail to the first spot where he could flip over on his back and make a snog angel in the snow. It was pure joy. Fresh snow is like walking in sand—you work it, but for Jeter fresh snow is like sailing among the clouds. He runs in circles. He burrows his head into drifts looking for old tennis balls left on the trail. He sticks his butt up in the air, wags his tail and barks. He fills himself with the moment. The quiet here is such that we can hear the snow fall.

The practice of gratitude comes in a lot of different packages. In this package, I am alone with my dog in nature, infected by the joy and delight with which he celebrates fresh snow on a March spring day. All around me is the beauty of the natural world, infusing my heart with happiness, easing and dissolving  the concerns and obligations that are my weekday baggage. In this moment, my snog has taught me to love life so fully that I too delight in this cold, white, wet stuff that has frozen my face and numbed my finger tips. I walk with a goofy smile on my face, laughing out loud at Jeter, calling out good morning to geese flying overhead. We are being kissed by nature, and we are kissing her back.

I walk at a good clip as far as the bridge, while Jeter runs in circles around me, breaking trail, occasionally stopping to create another snog angel. Enveloped in the joy of this appreciation, I know I made the right choice in getting out of bed to get us here. A group of birds sitting on the fence that follows the creek seem to sing the snow down harder, and the wind swirls the snow around us while we make our way back to the car. Wet dog, wet person filled with gratitude and joy. I learn a lot from my dog. He nudges me into nature on a daily basis. He keeps my heart and legs strong by demanding daily treks to various trails. And he loves life unabashedly with a contagious enthusiasm. We pull out of the empty lot, blasting the defroster, the car permeated with the smell of wet wool and wet dog, the great snog adventure in the rear view mirror and a stretch of  frozen road leading us home.