Monday, March 11, 2019

Why I'm grateful for all the snow

As the snow starts to compress with periods of sunshine and warmer temps, I get the eerie feeling that the globs are staring back at me. Watching. Witnessing.

This has been one Helluva winter. I knew it would be challenging. Getting a divorce in November and moving into the remote North Woods outside a teeny tiny town into an old farm house with no fencing and so many unknowns is not a reassuring combination. 

I knew it would be challenging for my dogs because they are used to having a modicum of freedom of movement and regular exercise/play sessions with frisbees etc.  Now, they are relegated to life in confinement to their indoor crates unless they are led outside on leash to potty, or if the weather is warm enough to go into their cramped outdoor kennels for some fresh air. Every day I try to get all six of the dogs upstairs for one-on-one social time with me and a good rawhide to help them chew their frustrations way. Sometimes that just doesn’t work out.

First order of the day when spring finally comes is to install fencing. Move and enlarge the chain link kennels. Build insulated wooden dog houses. Throw the frisbee again. Slowly rebuild their fitness. Play!

Until then we are all going stir crazy. We all have cabin fever. I can see the muscle-wasting on my previously fit and playful pups. I can see the thickening around their bellies due to long hours of inactivity and too much food. Food is about all they have to look forward to. Eating. Chewing. Getting brushed maybe once in a while.

I’m surprised at how well-behaved they really are in spite of their isolation and confinement. They do, however, neurotically howl like clock-work early in the morning to wake me up. They bark and howl whenever I have a package delivery. They whine and bark when they hear the click of the gate at the top of the stairs because they know I’m coming downstairs. They bark at snow falling off the roof. At things seen and unseen. Heard and unheard. They are often vocal beyond my endurance.

I wish I could say that I’m as patient as a saint, but I’m not. I wish I could say that the incessant whining, barking and howling doesn’t drive me crazy sometimes. I wish I could say that I don’t loose my temper and yell sometimes. But I can’t say that.

I’m crabby. Irritated. Anticipating the next cacophony. At times furious because I’m so helpless to relieve their suffering--and mine.  I feel guilty. This is my fault. And yet, I could have done no better really--could I? It was all I could do at the time to just land here or anywhere.

Their lives are so short compared to ours. They wait and wait for us like worshippers. And we brush them off. We are too busy. We are too distracted. I marvel at my own ability to simultaneously love them immeasurably and to also want to strangle them. Thankfully, when I want to lash out, I always have snow to shovel.

So actually all this snow has been for our own good. Shoveling snow burns up energy and directs my focus away from the frustration with my dogs. They are entertained by watching me sweat and struggle so frequently. One could say, in fact, that the snow has been our saving grace!

OK. I am grateful for the snow. But now it’s time for it to go away.