Lately I've been noticing that most people around here walk their dogs on a pretty short leash. Not crazy short—just like the typical six feet. We have one of those: it's black and thick and strong, because Rascal had some pulling power in his younger days! But we haven't used it for a long time. Instead, when he has to be on a leash at all we go with the 15-foot retractable model. Watching folks striding along the sidewalk with their golden retrievers heeling beautifully made me think, for a moment, that I wish I could walk like that with Rascal... but by the next moment I had changed my mind. Because that's not really what either of us are like.
Rascal doesn't run as much in his old age as he once did, but he still likes to stretch out every once and a while—certainly, for most of his life it was running rather than walking that gave him all his exercise. A walk, for him, is all about exploring the smells and tastes of the neighborhood. For my part, while I'm happy to walk briskly when I can, I'm not particular as to the direction—and I'm rarely in any real hurry. So it suits us both to let him come and go within that 15-foot radius. He can range ahead or behind, or go sniffing in woods or lawns, without me having to think about it too much. I figure the model is kind of like my parenting. He's coming along in the same general direction that I'm going, but I'm not going to worry to much about making him stay right next to me for show or anything. It seems to work for us.
Most times the first snowfall of the year is exciting just for being first, but it doesn't amount to much on its own. Not so this year. After a warm summery beginning to fall we were only just getting used to cold weather, so a legitimately snowy day today was kind of a shock. Exciting though! Mostly for the kids—some of the adults I talked with yesterday evening weren't looking forward to the forecast accumulation—but even some grown-ups got caught up in the spirit. Our street saw a pretty vigorous kids-vs-parents snowball fight for a little while this afternoon; especially nice since the parents forced to team up aren't always on the best terms otherwise.
The only bad part about the snow is, as always, the yard wasn't ready for it. It's not very likely that this snow will stick around til spring, but it's possible—and as it started to fall I was very aware that in that case a lot of things would be lost and/or ruined. It's always bad—I'm not a particularly organized gardener (or anything)—but it's even worse this year because of my current construction project. I'm putting up a playhouse for the kids, and it's kind of a significant endeavor. I spent the first part of the morning racing to finish framing and sheathing the roof, to keep at least some of the snow from the interior (there's still mostly no walls, so it won't be bone dry—but roofs do help). Then I had to put away the remaining lumber, so it wouldn't be buried forever under its tarp. By that time the tools I'd left lying around were beneath at least an inch of snow... I hope I found them all.
All in all, though, I count the snow as a total positive. We had a super fun day, and we're looking forward to more snowy fun tomorrow. Zion was very disappointed when he heard the forecast calls for sunshine; I told him the winter would bring lots more snow. Just maybe after the playhouse has walls.
Moments from the past week (moments are all I have time for!!).
After years of failing to get organized, we finally managed to celebrate the solstice in proper style today. Not that we have any connection to traditional observations... but we're sure that to do the thing properly you need greenery and fire.
We started out by making some wreaths using the evergreens in our yard. We ended up with two, one I made myself to try out the theory, and one that Harvey helped me on.
Don't let Harvey's outfit fool you—it was actually pretty cold out this afternoon! Our hands were numb with the mitten-less fine work required. Maybe I should have set up inside; but since I'd never done this before I wanted to be close to the supply of greenery so we could cut as needed. We used mostly hemlock, with some holly and andromeda for decoration, and held together with wire and ribbon. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out!
After studying candles pretty intensively on Monday the boys were pretty blasé about lighting our wreath, and we didn't know any songs to sing... but it was still pretty cheery looking on a winter afternoon (and it had plenty of room on our new giant kitchen table!).
Then we went back outside to light the "bonfire" with one of the candles. We had to go out just after dark, so we couldn't make it too big, and we weren't able to wait til sunset like I would have liked. But we had all the time we needed to sit around the blaze, listen to the firework sounds from fresh hemlock boughs burning, and hope the sun would come back this year. A good solstice... now on to Christmas!
I'm already celebrating with a new camera.