Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Snowflakes on noses

It snowed again, after a week of warm weather and rain and snow washed from trees to freeze as sheets of ice on the ground. It fell for two days, off and on, in a drifting, dreamy kind of way, accumulating just enough to make everything pretty again.

In the late afternoon I stood outside with the dogs after hauling two days worth of firewood out of the forest and watched the flakes fall in slow motion from a patchwork sky of evening blue and gauzy white cloud. The sun, riding low in the sky, cast a buttery light all day through the softly falling flakes and as it rode its shallow arc towards the mountains I could make out just a hint of pink about the clouds and on the now white branches of trees.

I threw a tree limb for Murdoch and a tiny stick for Bear. The tree limb had been Bear’s a few days ago. She stomped and barked and whined until I slid it along the ice so she could pounce and then chew on it, ripping it apart splinter by splinter. Later that night she had another seizure and although she bounced back quickly and insisted she was ready to play the next morning, the tree limb lay neglected for a couple of days where Bear had left it, wedged between the trunks of two trees.

Bear told us she was going to have a seizure that Friday night, nudging us at the table where we sat. When I took her to the stairs thinking she had to go out, I recognized the wide-eyed look on her face and the muscle twitch that we now know precedes her seizures. Morgan carried her to her bed, making it just to the edge as her body tensed up, and I sat on my knees on the floor, with her head in my lap and we waited for the convulsing to stop.

Then we gave her a great big bowl of food, having figured out by now that after her seizures she is starving and food helps calm her down so she doesn’t pace aimlessly, panicking on tired legs that give out frequently so she falls hard on the floor over and over again.

She stood scarffing down her second bowl of food, swaying on her feet while Morgan held up her back end and I held up her front, and we couldn’t help laughing a bit at her Labby determination to eat at all costs.

The snow started to fall on Sunday before the sun rose, tiny flakes drifting so casually down against the black backdrop of early morning I didn’t even notice until the dogs returned from their morning pee with sparkling diamonds dotting their fur. And Bear was back to acting like a puppy, galloping through the snow, kicking up sprays of white.

It wasn’t long before Murdoch discovered the tree limb caked with snow and frozen slobber. He picked it up as though it were a twig and brought it to where I stood, dropping it with a hollow thunk, frozen wood on ice. I hefted the five-foot long “stick” as far as I could, which wasn’t very far at all, wincing when it clattered down on his back and head or as he twisted his jaw to catch it, toppling end over end. I let him wrestle with it on his own and I plucked a tiny stick from the snow for Bear, who pawed the ground and demanded we play.

As she chewed her twig to bits I stood there and watched the snowflakes sift down through the dimming icy blue light. I watched them land on Bear’s face and back, tiny six-pointed stars of intricately sculpted glass. They were just exactly what you would imagine a snowflake to be and, landing gently on Bear’s black fur, they were absolutely perfect.

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