When we walk around our neighbourhood during the day, Jack and I have a regular route. We walk up to the high school, then down toward the park and then loop around back to the far end of our own street and then it’s a straight line to home again. This route is Jack’s choice because it gives him the best chance of getting a few love pats along the way. The walk takes us past his teenaged fan club and the home of his best dog friend, Leo. It also allows me to avoid problems because I know where all the other dogs live along the route. Most dogs are friendly and get along well with Jack, but there are one or two exceptions. There’s a Jack Russell at the end of our block who strains at his leash snarling and barking at Jack madly. We only know him as “Shut-up you bastard,” but I’m sure he has another name. I’d stop to ask except he won’t stop barking long enough to speak to his person, a frail elderly man who likes to holler. There’s also Izzy, a pug, who wants to challenge Jack. Jack picked him up once and spat him out again, without injury I should add, but it only made Izzy more determined to get Jack. So now, we always cross the street to avoid him. Izzy has a great person named Linda who Jack and I both like, but she understands that Izzy has issues and always controls him from her side of the street. Recently, though, neighbours a few blocks down have gotten a new dog, and it barks at us every day no matter what time we go by. It’s always at the window, I imagine because his people work and he is watching for them. The new dog not only barks, but he jumps around a lot, occasionally banging into the window. Jack says he wants to be friends and tells me that we should knock on their door one evening to meet him when his people are at home. I think we should wait until spring, when the new dog is more settled and we can meet casually outdoors. I tell Jack that not everyone wants a voyager at their door with an 85-pound hairy goofball, asking if their dog can come out to play. Jack says he can’t understand why, and furrow’s his brow at me. Sheesh, alright, Bubba! Maybe I’ll go alone to take them a few Christmas cookies and check the situation out. If they’re agreeable, perhaps I’ll take Jack for a playdate. I think the new dog does look like a fun sort of fellow, just look at that smile, and its barking and antics do seem more playful than aggressive. Who knows, maybe Leo has some competition for the title of Jack’s Best Friend?
All in all, it’s good to be home. Jack wants to make cookies, and it does seem like a good day to bake. You’ll know to find us in the place where good things drop unexpectedly.
We had a gentle, light dusting of snow this morning, and it was just enough to make the world look fresh and pretty for a while. That’s one of the things I like about winter, the way that snow covers a landscape with a coat of crisp, clean stillness. Ogden Nash says it much better than me, though, so I’ll let him.
Winter Morning Poem
Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.
– Ogden Nash
Well, Jack and I did venture out yesterday. Twice. About 1 in the afternoon, the sun came out for an hour or so, and the sidewalks got all melty and full of slush. It seemed like a good time to go for a walk, and so we did. It was a delightful walk, too. Sloppy and cold, but not really icy. The sun started to melt the ice off the trees and the wires, but it didn’t shine long enough to raise the temp above zero, and so today, the trees are still frosted. Jack and I went out again after supper, and the sidewalk slush had turned into rough frozen ice. It wasn’t as slippery as I’d thought. The snow that covered the ice helped rough it up, and the soles of my boots were mostly able to find traction. Even Jack managed better with only 1 slip and no falls. Today the world remains frosted with ice and snow, and I love the way things look. There’s so much more light, and it reflects like millions of tiny, shiny diamonds in the glow of streetlights at night and the short glimpses of the sun today. The walking is difficult, but not dangerous. Most people have shovelled, and what ice remains is rough and well trampled. We need to go slow and shuffle a bit, but it’s so pretty outside I don’t mind.
Here’s another song for today. I sing this song when I’m on the beach ins the summer looking for sea glass because they shine like diamonds when you find them. Today the whole world is made of diamonds. And of course, we’re all as bright, and beautiful as diamonds ourselves, so let’s all shine a bit today, too.
We had freezing rain all day yesterday, and it’s left our world coated in ice and a perilous place for walking. Jack and I set out early yesterday morning, just as the ice was starting, because I thought it might be the only window of opportunity for the whole day and I was right, The ice began to coat everything quickly, and a minute or two after leaving the house it was already slick walking. We went once around the big block, very slowly and cautiously. Mostly I walked on the grass, but Jack preferred the sidewalk because the grass was sharp with ice, and he was wearing vaseline boots that don’t have a decent protective tread* like mine. Jack did fine until we reached the places where the sidewalk slopes. Even four-footed Jack struggled once or twice with his balance on the sloped driveways. Poor Bubba found himself sliding sideways toward the street a few times, and in trying to correct himself, he had one or another of his back legs slip out. Then I’d see him freeze and dig his toenails into the ice and look up to me, asking what to do next. I encouraged him to use the grass a few times, but he said it hurt his feet and that made sense, so then I encouraged him to walk on the street, but Jack’s been raised to stay away from the road, and it’s so ingrained that he doesn’t like to do it. By the time we got home, the ice was already building up a thick coating on everything, and we both felt lucky to reach the house upright and undamaged. We didn’t leave the house again for the rest of the day.
We may not leave the house today, either. Today, we’re getting snow on top of the ice, making things even slipperier and more dangerous. No one has yet put down any salt, and it’s treacherous out there. Jack says he can use the backyard if he needs the toilet, and I thanked him very much for his consideration. Jack has seen me go Boom!, on the ice a few times in his life, and it always upsets him. When it’s slippery, Jack automatically slows down, and as he walks, he keeps looking over his shoulder to see how I’m doing. He’s such a good boy. Maybe I should try to take him out – just around the small block. What do you think – Should I stay or should I go?
Welcome to December at The Art of Book Design. We have a full month of winter-themed books to share and I thought I’d start with a title that expresses how Jack and I feel about winter when it’s icy outside. It’s a book of winter stories for young children, and I love the little birds that decorate the cover.
Our trees this week are brought to you by one of our readers, VBFF, who’s sent in a lovely photo of a winter sunset glimpsed through a stand of trees as well as a close-up shot of some icicles in tree branches. The far and the near of winter, well captured. I love reader submissions – thanks VBFF.