Hurrah for Christmas and still no snow.
Say the woodland creatures, “We still can go
Out of our houses to tease the dogs,
Luring them into the Windsor Park bogs.”
That’s one way to look at this unseasonably warm weather. The squirrels have become particularly insouciant. They continue to store nuts; don’t have to delve into the trove.
The boards for the hockey rink have been up for many weeks, but the children are still playing basketball on the asphalt. Alpha wonders when he’s going to have to start flooding the ice; his friends tell him it’s more likely he’ll be called upon to cut the grass.
And of course, we return from the park gloriously splattered in mud and water from the sodden turf.
Both humanoids and dogs seem to have different opinions on all of this. I love to romp in the snow as much as anyone. I’ve even invented my own vocabulary for different kinds of snow.
There’s nothing like scampering across the gentle pluff that gathers on top of the hardened snow, or a good game of catch-the-punder – the snow that humanoids toss into the air with their snow shovels.
There are times when I agree with those who sing at this time of year:
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten
And dogs are sniffin’
At where the snow’s stain is yellow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every mail man that I bite.
But, my dear, I’ve reached an age where the spirit is willing and the bones are arthritic. The warmer days are easier on my joints, and Alpha can leave Lily and me out in the back yard for longer stretches to secure the perimeter from the neighbours’ cats.
And, of course, we don’t have to deal with the less pleasant variations of snow: the sleem that floats in puddles of ice water, and the gloog that has been softened to mush by road salt. Oh, I’ll keep this warm weather for a bit longer, thank you.
Nor has the absence of snow deterred the humanoids from carrying on their peculiar rituals. Once again, a tree has been welcomed into the house. I’m wise enough now to know that it is not my place to mark this tree as I would those outside.
But Alpha and the Mom don’t seem to appreciate my efforts to wag my tail to enliven the ornaments that festoon the lower branches. Nor do they appreciate Lily’s efforts to leave her paw prints as loving mementoes on the boxes and envelopes that lie underneath.
The Pup, Sporty and Sunshine are all wired on sugar and anticipation. They all seem to look forward to someone dropping down the chimney to bring them stuff. Not on my watch, I tell you! I take great pride in alerting the household whenever anyone approaches the front steps. And I’m not going to be fooled by someone who thinks he can sneak by me down the chimney.
Pup has asked for Star Wars lego; Sporty, a Wii wand; Sunshine, clothes and jewelry. I don’t understand any of this. But if someone tries to come down the chimney, I’m not going to be silenced with any old dog biscuit and pat on the head.
What do I want? Well, after all these years of waiting until the rest of the pack is fast asleep, and sneaking up to Alpha’s computer to tap out these letters, it occurs to me that there must be a better way. The Mom teaches students with learning disabilities. She often tells Alpha about new computer programs that help kids learn to write.
And that’s what I want. My arthritis is making it more difficult to tap out these letters with claw and nose. I’m asking Santa for bark recognition software.
From all the dogs and humanoids in our pack to the dogs and humanoids in yours, Merry Christmas, and a healthy, happy and safe new year.
Many of Zoscha’s readers have observed that she often sprinkles her prose with various quotes, parodies and allusions. If you can identify a reference, send your contest entry to firstname.lastname@example.org, using “Zoscha’s contest” in your title line. Or drop a note off at the Firehall.
In all the pre-Christmas clutter, Alpha has misplaced the letter from a lovely woman who not only identified one of last month’s allusions, but also recounted her own stories about the previous months’ contest reference: the Flanders and Swann Hippopotamus Song. If she would like official recognition, please write us again – Zoscha enjoys hearing from you.
She identified “one brief shining moment” as a riff from the Lerner and Lowe musical, Camelot. No one picked up on the reference to “two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other,” from Rainer Maria Rilke.