Winter has come early to our Windsor Park and our Kemptville domains alike. Alpha has brought me back to the city, where I must inspect the yellow spots on all the snowdrifts.
He thinks I move along so slowly because my arthritis does not suit this weather. But I love the snow. I prefer the cold to the extreme heat of the summer. The reason I move along so slowly is that there is much news to be learned from the scents left in the snow banks.
When humanoids return from abroad, they spend many hours catching up on the mail. When we dogs return, we need to sniff at every hydrant and pole to find out what we may have missed in our absence.
I came home to the strange seasonal smells of indoor trees. Yes, it’s that time of year again. And, no, the humanoids still do not wish us to mark these trees as we would those outdoors.
But I’m happy to report on some discoveries as to the origins of these trees.
In the city, the humanoids arrive at the front door with the trees tied down to the top of cars. Everything has already been processed.
It’s much like the way they return from the store with pieces of chicken wrapped in Styrofoam and cellophane. It’s only after you visit to the country that you realize this meat actually comes from some very silly birds that do not fly and would no doubt be very fun to chase if Alpha would only let me.
And the trees that they bring into our homes? Yes, they are indeed trees. Lily and I accompanied the rest of the pack to a wonderful place where they grow in real ground – not up from those plastic holders the Pup waters each morning.
The Pup, Sport and Sunshine ran ahead looking for what they regarded as the perfect tree. Their criteria are different than yours or mine would be. Apparently it’s important that the tree stand straight, and that its branches be evenly distributed on all sides. They don’t seem to care one iota whether there are interesting smells on the lower branches.
But find the right tree they did. Alpha cut it down with a little hand saw while The Mom took pictures as we proudly dragged it back to the van. Then we had the ceremonies of bringing the tree into the Kemptville house, setting it up in those plastic containers, and festooning it with all kinds of baubles.
Once again, humanoids seem concerned that we do not wag our tails within range of these things.
I’ve now returned to the city where I found that Alpha and the Pup had already erected a tree without any help from Lily or me. We’re back to our city routines: walks to the pup kennel in the mornings, explorations of Windsor Park during the day, fetching the Pup from the Firehall in the late afternoon.
But there is another winter routine that we have enjoyed many times since I returned to the city. It’s the season where Alpha and his friends water the ice rink. In the summer they water the grass, in the winter, they water the ice. I supervise from the snow banks along the hockey boards.
First there’s just snow to be rolled down. We come back later to sprinkle the snow with water. Others come to take over the hose, or we roll the hose up and store it in the warm building where the floor boards smell of last winter’s snacks and hot chocolate.
The next time we return, there are mountains and valleys of frozen snow and the occasional spread of smooth ice.
And when we return again, it’s easy to see how the spray from the hose and the tramp of boots grind down the high points and the water pools in the area where the ice surface is becoming flat and smooth. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low: the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
Soon everything will be smooth as … well, not glass. They never get the rinks as smooth as the ice on the river.
But smooth enough that, any day now, the humanoids will be strapping on those strange blades and sweeping across the ice in a way we dogs can only dream of. We would catch every squirrel in the park if we could move with such effortless speed. It’s going to be something to watch. From the snow banks.
Thinking that winter is my favourite season,