THE SPEED OF
It wasn't as relentlessly cold that winter, I mean, not as snowy or consistently cold as the previous one -- when had regularly gotten down aslow as the 20's below in the middle of the night, and I was wakingup at 3:30 am to walk the dog and get into The City by 7:30 am. By the time the melting began the snow was piled at least two and a half feet high in the yard. -- But it was a cold enough winter. Twice, for weeks a ta time, the Bog froze solid enough for ice skating.
There was that one day, quite early in the season, when, curious about how firm it really was, I went out walking on the Bog. I had a walking stick in hand to test the strength of the ice and the dog (she's a black Cocker Spaniel who we sometimes tease by calling "Ms. Petite Feet" because, especially right after a hair cut, you can see just how tiny her paws are -- they match the rest of her little self), well, the dog was along side me, as usual. We stepped from the little beach front off the northwest corner of the lawn onto the water, which turned out to be as hard as the ground, and made our way across. She picked up the scent of another animal when we were not far out, along the Bog's shore edge-line, which had come walking from the other direction, leaving foot prints in the thin snow coating. Soon she led the way, following those reversed footsteps; further and further out and across; further to the north than we had ever gone before and eventually through and beyond the thin stump-tree forest. She was leading now, and me many dozen yards behind -- her speed has always seemed uncanny on those short legs of hers! Straight out and across, driven by the scent of the prints, now recognizably canine, and all the way acrossto where the wetland would be spongy if it weren't frozen. There the reeds and remnants of the prior warm seasons' vegetation thickened and I called her to come back.
We turned toward home -- the snow now fully falling and I saw (did she,too?) the white smoke from the chimney of our yellow house rising to meet the falling white precipitation. As we neared the scrub-tree forest the Bog looked like a giant, great white desert of snow.
But for all that day's beauty it hardly compared, what I mean is, it isn't the day I really intend to write about now. -- Just an example to remind myself that the Bog did freeze that winter, and solid.
No, this recollection is really about another day, one late in winter --maybe just a brief ten days or so before the Spring Equinox was due, but still, it was winter: By then the water fowl had flown north -- ducks, swans and geese -- and they were making lots of noise very early in themornings, I guess trying to claim some space in the limited area of the Bog's central ice-broken waters.
It was a Friday and I was free from my regular day job in The City, scheduled to be in on the Saturday. It was a day I taught bead-weaving crafts for a few mid-day hours in the nearest town, three miles down the road. Though cool, the weather was fair enough, so when I finished around 3 o'clock I walked home, got there about four.
Both kids -- not really kids, young adults, really -- were in. As usual, I took the dog outside immediately upon my arrival home. We briefly played ball. Then the calls of the Canadian geese caught her attention and vroom! -- Her speed has always seemed uncanny on those short, little legs she has! Out across the ice, unbroken by the little beach front off the north west corner of the lawn, she ran; further and further, out anda cross, toward the west -- but the more distant ice wasn't solid! By thetime I reached the shore at the beach front's entrance she was struggling to get her petite front feet hooked onto solid ice. I called her name, thinking her devotion to me would motivate her to safety. She tried, and tiring quickly in the cold of the recently thawing waters, she went under. I tried to get to her, laying down on the ice to spread my weight that it might not break, I attempted to slide toward her. As she began drowning I just beat a path into that ice, cutting away at the distance which separated us. I beat with my fist and cracked through it, leaving myself wetter and wetter with each punch. I called to her; I called her name again and again (the kids later said they thought nothing of it as I always seemed to be calling her on our usual walks -- didn't they sense the panic in my voice?). Before long I reached her and she reached me. "Damn! Smart dog! Good girl!!" Before I could gain control of the situation she had climbed, more like flown, up ontomy back and to safety; to the leaving behind of that frozen wetness. By then my cloths were soaked through and her added weight put me at a disadvantage.
We turned toward home -- where, before my eyes -- it felt like a miracle -- were a man and a woman, both middle-aged, racing straight down the slight incline of the lawn directly toward us. You've heard that expression about being "Bogged Down?" Well, that is literally what I had become -- my left foot caught on who knows what in the undergrowth and my cloths -- wool under jacket, leather coat and fleece-lined boots -- all frozen wet and they -- two angels unaware, were suddenly (magically, miraculously) there to assist me, us. They helped me get the dog to land (he had to pull her right ear to make her jump off my back and got thanked by her with a small snap). They helped me gather her up and get inside the house, up the still snow-slippery hill. They directed the kids into action and saw it through until I stopped worrying about the dog and got a quick, hot shower and was in dry cloths, settled by the fireplace. Quick as they came they were gone, said they were local folks, named "Barns."
By the time the dog and I could laugh again, there was still an hour until sunset.
THE FOXFILES © 1996-2004, Rebekah Tanner