With all my layers of down, wool, cotton and synthetic––not to mention the snow booties for the dog and not much else as he has a thick coat––I attach myself to one end of our life line, the 25 foot leash, and the dog and I head out back. It became apparent that after the recent days of odd weather and temperatures that kept us holed up inside or dodging vast lakes of melted water outside, someone needed to stretch his poodle legs.
I trudge through about a foot of new fallen snow covering some great sheets of ice and paradoxically, a few brooks moving across the fields. I admire the well of energy my dog has; we circle about six huge fields, I’ll guess well over a hundred acres, and other than tip toeing gingerly and quite comedically on ice sheets, he bounds most of the way. I inhale and relish the feelings of racing pulse, freezing toes and stinging cheeks. Perhaps there is no way to understand a beauty that can also be life threatening. Crystals and frozen drops of water adhere to stems of grass. Ice forms on ponds with the same pattern that you would see on the scaled side of a fish. I could lie down in this peace, in a welcoming drift of snow by a decrepit fence, and never get up.
Recently, and again thanks to my dog, I have taken to sitting in the yard I have fenced for him, and while he sniffs the edges for traces of rabbit intrusion, or waits for me to throw the frisbee for the hundredth time, I listen while a silence descends, and envelopes. I wonder how to reconcile this odd beauty that is winter with the sometime discomfort of cold car seats, sodden socks and short painful walks into a brisk north wind.
I feel now, somehow, it is my duty to stop, pull at the seat of my jacket as I sit, so my bum doesn’t freeze, and to stay a bit longer than I am used to. Over my shoulder is the house and beyond is the car and beyond that is the road to town, then a highway, train station and airport. But some silent power says it is my duty to stay in that cold chair, feel the frost burn at my cheeks, squeeze my frozen toes, clutch at my frozen thumbs, and marvel at the sight of my breath.