Winter Woods

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The last few days we have been visited by some lovely cold Arctic air.  Kind of like someone way up north left a door open and since we are in the flat part of the country, the air just moved south with nothing to hold it back.  We usually get a brush or two of this every year.  Some years are worse than others.  This year hasn’t been so bad.

Today was the worst day when I woke up and the temp was below 0.  Now, I love the weekend as much as the next person but Saturday is always the day to do all the stuff we can’t do on weeknights because I’m usually dancing and she’s usually working.  So, it is rarely a day to rest and relax even though this would have been the perfect day to not leave the house.

Even if there weren’t errands to run, there are still the dogs.  It matters not to Rocco the Wonder Dog that I walked him every day of the nearly two weeks I was off work over the holidays.  That was yesterday and he’s all about “what have you done for me lately??”  And, he knows the difference between weekdays and the weekend and the weekend is park day!!  Normally, since I’m the early bird, I take him and I’m back just as she’s getting ready for the day.  But in darkness and below 0 conditions, it wasn’t going to happen which he totally doesn’t get.  There are other days when he doesn’t get his walk and he spends the rest of the day getting super excited every time we come back to the house until it gets late enough that he figures out he’s screwed and he actually sulks a bit.

That was going to be the plan today but after our last stop, the temperature was solidly in the teens and the sun was shining.  It didn’t feel that bad.  (See, you live where the weather is variable like this and temperature all becomes relative.  It was still cold but you could convince yourself it was OK).  Dolly, our 15 year old arthritic beagle mix seemed to be as interested as Rocco in hitting the park so my wife agreed to come so I could walk Rocco and she could walk Dolly.  At this stage in their lives, they walk at significantly different speeds so it works better.

I have made it clear that I hate winter and cold.  Nothing about that has changed.  But, I’m also the type that can find the good in almost anything – when I’m in the right mood.  There is something about the starkness of a cold winter day in the woods when it is quiet and the trees are barren.  Snow would make the landscape prettier but we only had a small amount so it was really just brown and empty.  Still, the sun helped my mood and the multiple layers made it seem bearable.

And, to be honest, there is something about just venturing out when it is that cold and when most people would think you were stupid for even trying.  The funny thing was that the cold seemed to energize Dolly.  She was running and moving more than we’ve seen in a long time.  She not only kept up with Rocco but she was ahead of him for most of the walk.  Of course, after we got back and she ate, she’s been asleep every since.  Her battery was totally drained by the experience but it was still nice to see her enjoying something.  She has slowed considerably but walks like that show she still has life left in her.

It is interesting how little things can change the feel of the air when it is that cold.  When we first started out, the sun was shining and there was no wind and it was cold but bearable.  Once we got out, some clouds rolled in and the sun came and went and every so often a little breeze kicked up.  Not the nice cool refreshing breeze of summer but a breeze of ice daggers that would find the weaknesses in your layering and start to freeze your exposed skin.  That’s when you realize why there weren’t more people out and you turn around and hope to get back to the warmth of the car as soon as possible.  (And also why you are incredibly thankful for seat heaters!!!)

I have learned to break winter into chunks and just take things piece by piece.  The month after the winter solstice is when average temperatures are at there lowest.  That means we are about two weeks away from that point.  Not that the change will be noticeable but, mentally, I can tell myself that from that day on, we are on the backside of winter.  The days are getting longer now although that isn’t noticeable either.  But, since I have set lessons at the same time, I’ll eventually start to notice that sunset doesn’t happen until I’m closer to the studio.  The day it is still light when I hit the studio is a big one.

Tomorrow is another cold day.  But then things get back to more seasonal weather on Monday.  Day by day, winter moves on.  Seeing Dolly having fun in the cold made this a good day.  Hopefully, something else will make tomorrow a good day as well.


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