52. Snowball Fights

Dear Tera,

These are days of bright sunlight, and all kinds of grit to be tracked into the house.  Days when winter turns to water and gurgles along the gutters and disappears down the drains.  Days when the hillsides begin to smell of earth once again, and there’s all kinds of mud and long-buried debris to roll in.  But mostly it’s a time for snowball fights. The winter begins with snowball fights, and it ends with snowball fights.

Alpha considers himself the Achilles of snowball fights.  You can tell that he’s been perfecting his techniques over many years.  He’s accurate with the long throw and he’s devastating with the quick pick-up-and-pitch that seems more effective at close quarters.  He has perfected his own technique where he comes at his adversary slowly, arms loose by his side, like a gun fighter at high noon.  Then he shoots from the hip with a quick underhand toss. 

The Pup, on the other hand, has much to learn, but has been learning a lot since the season’s first snow fight back in December.  His accuracy improves and his snowballs have become more dense.  But where the Pup truly excels is in the histrionics of getting hit.  He can roll down the hillside or splay across the packed snow like an extra in a Hollywood Western. I think he enjoys getting hit by a snowball almost as much as he likes scoring an occasional hit on Achilles.

Meanwhile, the Pup’s young friend tries to attack Alpha from the opposite direction.  He does his best, trying to get within range beneath a barrage of Alpha’s snow balls.  He’s a good sport about it, taking many hits without any of the Pup’s dramatization, and occasionally let’s fly with a snowball that sometimes makes a hit.

All of this, of course, is meant for our entertainment.  There are several ways to participate in a snowball fight.  One is to stand a few feet behind one of the players, and chase after the snowballs that have missed.  Another is to stand in front of the player, and try to catch the snowball before it hits.  My preferred method is a combination of the two: stand in front of the player to try to catch the snowball shortstop-fashion, but chase after it like a tennis ball if it goes wide. 

This is terrific exercise for a dog who has reached the dignity of her senior years.  But when it comes to snowball fights, both Alpha and I become pups once again.  Then we return from the park and collapse by the fire with big grins on our faces.  The Pup’s energy levels never flag, even upon returning from battle.  He goes up to his room to play with his toy soldiers, working out strategies for the inevitable day when Hector will eventually triumph over Achilles.

We’re warming up, getting our techniques down for the grand snowball fight that takes place every year at the old board fort outside the maple sugar shack out in the country.  There in the sugar bush, where the snow lasts much longer, we hold the annual world championship snowball fight every spring.  Pups from many different neighbourhoods gather there B we hardly know anyone.  But it doesn’t take long for Alpha and the Pup to get everyone divided into two sides B usually all pups against Alpha B and then the games begin.

You know, I’m rather sorry to see winter go.  The humanoids have been grousing and complaining for weeks about how long this winter has lasted, but there’s nothing I like better than a good cold winter, where the ice is hard and the snow is firm.  A winter that begins and ends with snow soft enough for throwing.

Just a reminder: with the melting snow, we can soon look forward to the annual pick-a-poo harvest.  Every spring the humanoids gather in Windsor park to clean up the debris, and any souvenirs we might have left behind during the winter months.  The actual date depends upon the weather, so watch for the posters that will be stapled to the garbage bins in the park.  Look forward to seeing you there!

The grizzled veteran of many a snowball fight,