With the exception of a few small grimy piles of snow, winter has finally loosened its death grip on Westchester County. As if Mother Nature were preening for the Spring Equinox, she took a shower last night that lasted long enough to wash away the filthy gray film of rock salt left lingering on our streets for months.
While walking Fluffy this morning, I noticed that the air actually had the qualities of a living thing. Yes, it was windy, but there was something else going on. It was vibrant, energized. And when I looked up, it seemed to me that the sky was higher than it’s been in a very long time. Now I know that’s impossible, but I swear to you, that dark and dreary winter sky hung so low I could have reached up and touched it. Not today. No sir! Those big billowy clouds were whiter than a pair of ’60’s go-go boots and soared well beyond my grasp, into the bright blue heavens above. That might be because it’s the first time since November that I’ve been outside without a hat pulled down to my chin or it may be because I have finally come out of hibernation.
I’m no wimp, but friends I must tell you, this winter damn near killed me. For starters, I have never been a fan of the cold, but having grown up in the northeastern U.S., it just comes with the territory, literally. In fact (Warning: big brag alert) the day I was born was the coldest on record and remained so for over 40 years. With that auspicious beginning, you’d kind of expect me to be something of a natural born ice princess. Wrong-o! I hate it and this year was worse than I’ve ever remembered it. Maybe that’s because, in addition to inhumanely cold temperatures, we also had about 400 feet of snow. That shouldn’t seem like such a big deal either for a New York girl, but let me assure you, I have long lost my enthusiasm for snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen…I could even go the rest of my life without a Sno-Cone.
I don’t ski anymore either. Nor do I skate. So really, what’s there to like about snow and ice? Yes, it is pretty. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it is gorgeous. To look at. From inside the house. By the fireplace. In my sweater and cushy slippers. With the thermostat jacked up to 75°. Cradling a steaming cup of coffee in my hands.
Invariably, such picturesque moments would be interrupted by Fluffy, looking up at me with those big brown eyes to say, “My tank is full, Mommy. I have to go out.” That’s when my big brown eyes start scanning the house, looking for someone else to walk her. Most of the time, though, it’s just the two of us. And so we’d begin our winter reverse striptease.
Me first, then her.
I’d start by pulling pants over the pants I’d already be wearing. Then I’d wrestle on an extra pair of socks, a fleece vest over my sweater yet under my hoodie, the aforementioned hat over the hood, a scarf, my puffy down jacket (its hood over both the hoodie hood and the hat), boots and, finally gloves. Then, with the same mobility as a fully bedecked astronaut in zero gravity, I’d dress Fluffy in her harness, faux shearling coat (which she hates), wax her four paws with Musher’s Secret (which I do with my gloved hand inside a baggie – don’t ask), clip on her leash, say a silent prayer (plus a few audible obscenities) and off we’d go into the frigid world. It would take us almost as long to dress as it would to walk the walk. And, God forbid, if she took her sweet time, I’d start “encouraging” her: C’mon, baby dog. Focus. Let’s go, baby. Hurry up. Mommy’s cold. Go potty, sweet girl! C’mon. Hurry up! GO ALREADY!
Perhaps I should mention that when the snow is completely over her head (as it was for most of this winter), Fluffy gets a little nervous. And when it’s that cold, all the dogs’ pee, that’s been peed before hers, freezes. That means she can’t smell the smells she needs for “inspiration.” Therefore, my cheerleading has always done about as much good as telling her to balance my checkbook. Anyway, I never lose my temper, but I have gotten sort of whiny and I may have even cried a time or two since this winter’s first blizzard.
It was after just such a foray that I received an email from one of my loving neighbors. Sandra dropped me a line to ask if everything was “alright,” having observed me looking mighty miserable out there. Well, Sandra, everything’s all right now…because Spring has sprung! I’m alive again! I’m down to just two layers of clothing and I’m ready to start writing again!
I think I speak for Spring, as well as for myself, when I say, “Sorry to have been away for so long. It’s good to be back.”