Nothing nice about snow and ice


Where is global warming when we need it? And what happened to a January thaw? I think bears have the right idea. In fact, for one solid week, I copied them. I hibernated. Literally.

The Friday that the Abominable Snowman was huffing and puffing to get a good start, I went to the store and stocked up on dog food, cat food, horse food, bird food, and, yes, people food.

I managed to turn the car around in the big snow drift where my driveway used to be and backed into the barn so I was headed out in case of, heaven forbid, an emergency. I bedded Apache and Toby up to their knees in bright shavings, came in the house, made a cup of tea — truthfully, I laced it with a little something extra for warmth — and settled in. It would be eight days before I emerged from my den into the world.


Mornings when the mercury sat at 13 degrees below zero, I kept “the boys” in until it warmed to 5 before I’d let them out. They were not happy about that. When I did open their doors, I had to stand back or get run over.

The minute they hit the open space, they hurled themselves down into the snow, rolled first on one side, then the other — Toby can roll all the way over and back so he doesn’t need to get up in between like Apache does — and then headed out, kicking up snow as they galloped and looking so beautiful that my soul smiled. I keep hay outside for them and they can come in if they wish, but they don’t until feeding time.

Winnie and Lisa are both wimps. Lisa barely wakes up to eat before returning to one register or another and Winnie is always anxious to be in the barn with me, but not for long. When she’s had her run — I clap my hands and say, “Chop, chop,” and she races down the aisle, skids a turn to come back up and then sits on the coco mat at the kitchen door, whining pitifully and holding up one foot. I wouldn’t think of letting her out in the snow until the temperature returns to sanity.

Demanding dog

Ginny Payne, who works in my doctor’s office, has a beloved 12-year-old Dalmatian — we swap dog tales — and this morning recounted Maizie’s latest adventure. She insisted on being taken for her walk. She wore her coat, but wouldn’t let her boots be put on.

Not far into the walk, Maizie decided she’d had enough and flopped down in the snow, ordering Ginny to pick her up and carry her. A neighbor came to the rescue and complied, but as Ginny said, “She wouldn’t do that to my husband — she just knows I’m a soft touch.”

It is in weather spells like this one, which seem to just go on and on and on, I’m ever so grateful for my setup. I don’t need to plow through knee-deep snow to my barn. I simply open the kitchen door. I’m also glad I don’t have more animals than I do, at least in the winter.

Big cats

Such a nice letter from Ellen Whitehouse of Noah’s Lost Ark in Berlin Center, and she enclosed pictures of a fat lion, Simba, playing in the snow, another of a young lioness, Lulu, and then a full-front face shot of Ming that sends chills up your spine. Remember Ming? He is the tiger rescued several years ago from a New York City apartment and he has been with Ellen and Doug ever since. She says he was truly psychologically damaged and is, therefore, an especially dangerous cat, but he is frighteningly beautiful.

Imagine having to wake 24/7, rain, snow, shine, and feed the following hungry mouths, many of them very big mouths: “72 big cats, six bears, seven wolves, over 20 horses, and a variety of over 50 other animals from primates to tortoises.” All are rescues and the stories of their abuses are chilling.

* * *

The afternoon of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” I was finishing up barn chores when I heard a loud clamoring in the sky, and looking up, saw almost at rooftop level, a straight line of at least 100 Canada geese (even some of the dummies on the networks insist on calling them Canadian geese) flying from the east and headed southwest. They were not in the traditional V, but even as I watched, the line broke up briefly and the birds angled off before returning to the line.

Coming into the house, I heard on the radio about the “bird strike” on the U.S. Airways jet and that the cause of the crash was believed to be an impact from Canada geese. Later, someone noted that the words “bird strike” shouldn’t be used, as actually it is the aircraft that strikes the birds and that the aircraft is invading their space.

* * *

Valentine’s Day is the next object of our affection and I’m glancing through a book Whatever Happened to… ? and will share a few gems appropriate to the season:

“Whatever happened to hanging around the playground waiting for the baseball game to be over so that the cute boy in your class would come over and sock you and pull your hair and chase you and spit at you and then you knew he liked you?”

And: “That wise mouth kid from around the corner who told you all about sex and what those words meant and showed you pictures and you looked at your parents funny for a week afterward …”

And (in tiny letters in the middle of a blank page): “Virgins …”

* * *

Going through photographs from many years back, I found one of Barbara and me beside a snowman we had made in the front yard, and what I remember is that she had green corduroy “snow pants” and I had red ones, and when you sat down in the snow the colors faded into the white fluff. What an odd thing to remember. I also remember they weren’t very warm, either.

* * *

Think spring.

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