Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Night Snow

We awoke to snow, and although Duncan didn't get a long walk this morning (more like a quick pee, a well-thought out poop, and a quick jog once around the building before I left for work), he saved it up for tonight's long romp in the park.

I can't think of many things that make my dog happier than snow. Shortly after Ken brought him home it snowed and he spent his first days with us plowing through drifts bigger than himself, chasing after powder that rolled ahead of him as he careened forward. Duncan loves the outdoors, loves wind in his face, loves playing fetch or tug of war, but little compares to his joy at playing in the snow. While I spend all year dreading it and then enduring it, he revels in it, delights in snapping at it and rolling through it.

Tonight at the park he was finally able to release all of his pent up energy. The plans he must've made this afternoon as he gazed out the window while it fell, then stuck to the ground. Looking across Bowles he must've seen the park, white and pristine with fields of unmarred snow waiting for him, calling to him.

Once again we were the only ones out so I took him off-leash to run free. Considering it had been seventy-three degrees on Monday, today's temperatures seemed almost unendurable. I've never been a fan of the cold or snow, I do not ski or snowshoe or participate in any of those other winter sports. I spend the long, cold months in sweaters and heavy socks, sitting on the couch reading, occasionally knitting, watching movies. We could not be more different, homebody me, who hates sports and Winter, and my ball-crazy, snow-mad dog.

Because it was so cold I worried all day about our walk and how displeased Duncan would be with me when our nightly trek was cut short. Maybe Duncan knew this and came up with a plan to distract me. I'll never know, but somehow whatever he did worked and we spent more than an hour playing and chasing and rolling around in the stuff. I even managed a snow angel, my first since college when a group of us got drunk and did them naked on the field behind a church. When Duncan tried an angel his came out more like an albino ink-blot test, but I'm not judging. His approach to keeping me out was direct but not aggressive. Rather than allow me to focus on how miserable my feet felt or how my nose wouldn't stop running, he distracted me by doing little more than standing in front of me, blocking my path and demanding I play his favorite winter game, Kick Snow in Duncan's Face. It's very simple: he positions himself down low in front of me while I turn my foot sideways, scrape the snow up in one swift moving arc and kick it in the direction of his head so he can leap forward, snap at it and watch as it rains down, catching in his muzzle and ears, coating his nose and eyebrows. We did this for over an hour, leaving a strange, sideswiping trail as we moved across the covered fields, up the hill and to the top of the memorial where we sat in silence, side by side, looking down on the empty park, the loud orange clouds and the city spread out all around us. When it was time to go he stood up, grabbed his leash and led me back down the hill to a nice, undisturbed patch of snow where we resumed our play.

I wonder what he thinks when I take him out into a world remade in white. I'm meticulous about rotating out his toys, giving him his Buddy for a few weeks before exchanging it for his Baby and then eventually replacing that with his Berry. Does he think I'm in charge of the snow, too; that I pick and choose when it falls and when he can enjoy it. There was a desperation in his play tonight, as if he wanted to get his fill of it before it went away again. Does he love me more in the snow, or come April, when the wind turns warm and he can turn his face into it, does he love me more all over again? Or does he just love me?

I know that I could watch him play all day in the snow. And all day in the grass. Or all day in the leaves.

I could watch him play all day.

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