“It’s raining, Martha,” says the weather dog bright eyes, damp coat, and hope on every fur filament. “Do you think it…?” her head cocks. Before snow, it rains. She’s no amateur. “A few months more, Bear,” I tell her, gently “Then we’ll have all the snow and cold we want.” She nods, shakes, and shuffles out intently To lie in wait for future’s snowy jaunt. Summer is inevitable, winter is too I tell my dog (and myself) every year Nurturing plants and fighting mosquitoes We watch summer go with nary a tear. Patiently we wait for the cold snow kisses and the sweet deep snow moment of Bear’s bliss.
This is a Shakespearean sonnet which follows an ababcdcdefefgg rhyme scheme. In a perfect world they are also in iambic pentameter which is ba-BOOM, ba-BOOM, ba-BOOM which happens, also, to be the fundamental cadence of English. I’m not a fanatic about that. If I weren’t so lazy I might try other poetic forms, but…
Today I had the thought of taking Bear out to a place where we used to like to walk a round-about way to the river, but about 10 feet into the walk I had a VERY BAD feeling about it. I made Bear turn around (she was heavily involved in smelling things, notably dog pee; it’s a popular dog walking place thanks to Covid). As we neared the parking lot I saw a car I knew belonged to a nice woman with two dogs she lets run off leash.
Wow. Talk about intuition. She waited until I got Bear into Bella. As I drove away she waved and smiled (we are happy to see each other these days) and her two dogs ran down the trail.
“We’ll go to our happy place, Bear,” I said and we headed down a country road to the Refuge. And there, as always, we found refuge.
The snow has blown and melted a bit obscuring most of the beautiful tracks I saw last time. Here is all that remains of the elegant calligraphy left by a doe and her young one. It seems they drag their feet slightly, making a beautiful pattern.
There were a couple of short stories, too. By “short” I mean made by short animals (har-dee-har-har). Mice, those with the footprints and the line (his little tail dragging) and mouse tracks with the tail up (was something chasing him?).
Bear and I had a wonderful time. There was lots of silence to enjoy. It was my first walk since the injury two weeks ago that I wasn’t limping or walking awkwardly. It was fun. Now I’m reconsidering the ski resolution. Maybe I’ll just get bindings that work better. Not sure. On the way from the place where we DIDN’T walk to the place where we DID I saw people skiing on the lake. They weren’t having any big challenge out there on a groomed trail, though if the temperatures keep rising, they might have a MAJOR challenge.
The grey clouds are shuffling around out there as if they were working, but the odds are against them (and Bear and me). Bear doesn’t know what the forecast says and I’m not telling her. Anyway, they’re predicting less than a centimeter so who cares? Actually, ANY amount of snow makes Bear happy, and I try to follow her lead. She’s not thinking, “I can’t ski on this.” She’s thinking, “SNOW!!!” and she’s right.
Looks like it’s going to be one of those dry winters.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m tired. I remember this particular week in the calendar from when I was a kid. I ALWAYS just wanted to get back to school, to my friends, to learning things. For some reason, Christmas week was more ennui-filled even than the dog days of summer. Christmas was always supposed to BE SOMETHING GREAT, but it never was. And New Years? What was that? This year has been such a rollercoaster, that right now, at this moment in it, I just wish someone would give me new glasses, that I was better at painting letters, that it would snow FOR REAL and that I could hike for days in the California mountains I left behind. What’s wrong with THESE mountains, you ask? Nothing. They’re great, beautiful, immense but along with the California mountains were two good legs and no avalanches. And snow? Well when it did snow, it was always a LOT more than a centimeter.
I think we’re all tired. Ooops. Here comes the sun.
One very good way to deal with frustration is with a pruning saw. The second day after the snowpocalypse of September 9 or 8 or whatever it was, I went out to the back yard — the dog’s yard — to see that essentially half my neighbor’s nasty Chinese elm had fallen onto the vintage clothesline pole.
Summer snow is heavy and when most of it lands in five hours on fully leafed trees? Ha.
I examined it as well as I could in 14 inches of snow and decided I had no clue and went back in the house. After all, I had about a gazillion other branches to deal with all along the alley.
In the fullness of time I was able to look at the mess and I saw it was way above my skill level and I walked away again. Frustrated.
But I went back. And I started sawing off branches and pulling stuff down that I could pull down safely. Every afternoon since, I’ve worked on that damned tree. I figured it was in my power to clean up a lot of the mess and make the yard safe for the dogs to play in and for me to clean up. It’s a lowly aspiration, but it’s mine.
My ally in the battle against the tree, frustration and hopelessness is this little guy.
So far we’ve accomplished a lot. I’m tying stuff up in bundles for the trash to take, all but two branches that are too big.
I’ve called a guy who’s coming tomorrow to give me an estimate on the BIG job and to check the roof of my garage.
Thanks to the summer snow storm, which officially dumped 16 inches on Monte Vista, I have a huge mess to contend with. Half a tree broke off my neighbor’s excrescent elm and landed in my yard. Luckily, it didn’t break the fence. Another giant chunk of the self-same excrescence is looming dangerously over my garage. I’m waiting until next week to call anyone (since I can). The meteorological rumor is that next week temps will be in the 70s and the sun will be shining. And who knows? I might overcome my terror of chainsaws and take care of the branch in my yard myself (doubtful).
The City of Monte Vista was out yesterday cutting trees away from power lines. I’m bristling at what I’ll have to spend to deal with those trees, but it’ll be better than paying for a new garage roof. It’s just the kind of nagging problem that seems to have kept humanity going for thousands of years.
Like everyone else, Nature is easier to love when she’s being nice to you. On the bright side, the mountains are beautiful and Bear is blissful and no one will need to water anything for the rest of the year. And…
I got up at 6 (not my usual thing AT ALL) and Bear and Teddy greeted me with the big news that it had SNOWED!!!! Bear nearly dragged me out the back door to see. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already knew…
Easily 20 inches in my yard. Broken tree in the front (city’s tree, not mine). I can see a lot of chain saw action happening in the next few weeks.
The dogs (who have been up and out since 5 am) have created an agility course out there. They’re playing hide-n-seek, chase and “roll in the snow” like clowns rolling out of a Fiat.
Normally I share my dogs’ rapturous feeling about snow, but seriously, this is absurd. It’s still summer. Towns, farms and ranches all through the San Luis Valley have been without power all night. There are downed wires and trees all over the place. Our little hospital is running on its generator.
I’m a little tired of living in historical moments… 😀
Freezing temps, the sky silver with snow, Airborne crystalline promises shimmer. In the morning light, minute spectra glimmer. I leash my big white dog and off we go. Hoar frost on the bare trees’ smallest branches breaks free and falls on my dog and me. As we walk beneath the cottonwood trees Across the snowy field, the fresh snow crunches. The parallel tracks of Nordic skis shadow Our path through the brown and golden tones, Blue shadows, the angled light of winter noon. Ahead, Mt. Blanca, covered with snow. I stop, rest my hand on my dog’s warm back, she leans against my leg, savoring our gelid paradise.
I haven’t tried this since high school. My sophomore English teacher said that if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to learn to write sonnets so I would learn the discipline involved in the effective use of language. I wrote a bunch back then. They really are not easy and I don’t know if he was right nor not, but this was fun. 🙂
Bear and I have waited a LOOONNNGGGG time for what we like most: being outside in the snow. Not that any snow has fallen for about a month but it doesn’t matter as long as the temperatures never go above freezing, and they haven’t. It doesn’t look like they will, either.
Teddy — with whom I’ve decided to share my birthday because he was 6 months old when I got him last June — and I took off on Tuesday to celebrate and evaluate the packed trails. They were (and still are) beautiful
I finally skied (Langlaufed) the groomed trails yesterday and today Bear and I took a long snow ramble. The snow is at least 8 inches deep — fluffy, light, crystalline old snow. Perfect beautiful soft sweet I love it so much. Skiing yesterday was great except the stupid snow baskets came off my poles and weren’t cool about me putting them back. I dunno…
So today out there in boots with my best snow pal, I was able to evaluate the entire groomed course that I didn’t ski yesterday (having had to go back twice to retrieve snow baskets, grrr…) and make plans for tomorrow. My poles and their cheesy baskets will get a stern talking to in the morning, because I must seize the day. ❤
“Won’t you try a little bit harder, couldn’t you try just a little bit more”
It remains cold, below freezing, so the snow — though not freshly fallen — still powdery and perfect. I wanted to take the skis out again, but if a person can’t be fair to her dogs, what’s the point of her entire existence? (“Bear, stop putting words in my mouth!”)
Walking in snow a few inches above the ankle is a little difficult, especially when the snow doesn’t compress beneath your foot, but I was totally up to it. It was gloriously beautiful to be back out in the big empty, in the snow, with my big white dog (“I’ve waited a long time Martha!”), beneath the December sky that matches the blue and white of the mountains — the boundary between them marked by the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristos reaching into the watercolor-soft blue and white cloudy sky.
Bear likes to lean against me when I’m having a “moment.” I think she knows what’s going on with me. I think she understands perfectly that when I stare off to the horizon that it’s similar to me stopping and waiting as long as she needs to get the entire gist of a message. Sometimes she pulls — her messages seem, often, to carry a sense of urgency (ha ha). This is the biggest challenge. I don’t want to be pulled off balance right now. The messages I get from the sky and the mountains are quiet, reassuring affirmations of my place in the universe.
Bear found hundreds of tracks to, uh, track. Mule deer, certainly, and moose (it seems) as well as a nice patch of fox urine to roll in. She stopped to leave behind a message for her friend the fox should he pass again. My and my friend’s ski tracks rested unmolested. We only walked a mile because my foot is still not 100% and since I want nothing more than to keep skiing, I’m not going to risk anything. And, it happens, skiing is easier than walking.
The scene, this day after the solstice, was right out of John Greenleaf Whittier’s Snowbound, a long meditative poem on winter and my grandfather used to read it to my mom and her sisters and brothers every Christmas. It’s very lovely, evoking all the nostalgia and love of Christmas time, yearning for the past, endless love for those who are now only memories for us, whose stories and lives we carry around in our own lives — for good or ill or both.
The ending of the poem is exactly what I felt today, looking out at the rough snowy line of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the barren trees, the short, December light, my precious Bear leaning against my legs, my feet buried in snow. I felt grateful (again) to be in the San Luis Valley. I thought of the amazing woman I met yesterday at a Christmas concert and the equally amazing woman with whom I went. I looked at my friend’s ski tracks and remembered how much fun we had two days ago. I felt gratitude — again — to all the influences of my life that magically brought me where I am supposed to be.
The traveller owns the grateful sense Of sweetness near, he knows not whence, And, pausing, takes with forehead bare The benediction of the air.
Here’s my jubilant little crooked lopsided bow-legged self out there in Blissland having NO problems skiing with my friend. (Yay foot!!!) We’ve talked about it for at least two years, but various problems kept it from happening. The snow was perfect — slick and fast. It’s been below freezing since it fell which means beautiful, perfect, snow. ❤
Replete, of course, by fox and rabbit tracks…
I have nothing more to say other than I’m VERY happy and looking forward to more adventures as the winter progresses, god willing and I’m not ambushed again by a perfectly flat harmless grassy trail.
P.S. It seems that anyone who wants to know what my dad looked like can pretty much see from looking at me. Ah, DNA