We went to bed that night with flakes streaming past the porch light, flickering yellow and white against the blackness beyond. In the night, burrowed beneath blankets piled thick on the bed, we listen to the house creak and shift from buffeting winds. The next morning flakes fall fat and drift onto branches laden in white.
Winter is upon us.
Outside we cut a path through the ankle-deep snow, dusting it aside with each step in the muffled forest. December has crept in. This glowing world in white seems out of place somehow as though we should still be carving pumpkins and raking leaves.
But the dogs bound over snow-covered mounds, bury their noses beneath the white, delight in the falls of snow slipped from branches in great blankets to cover their backs. They tell me everything is as it should be.
Trees become snow sculptures and the forest is made of light. Ahead, two black shapes weave through the white, Murdoch slinking along the familiar trail, ducking under branches, leaping over downed trees and just behind him, a new black shape, tall ears pointed skyward, powerful legs making short work of the drifting snow, feet like lion’s paws stepping purposefully over this new path, a new path that will soon become a familiar path.
It is the first real snow of the season and I think of Bear and I think of Jack and I think of how much they are missed and how much they would love this. And I think about that week when life took an abrupt turn. That week when Jack died and our other neighbour’s house burned down and then Molly showed up.
Molly Malone, the King Shepherd with the black German Shepherd face and the Malamute fur who came from a loving family and is mistrusting of cameras. Molly Malone, who loves the snow, is completely unsure of cats and would be outdoors playing stick every waking minute of the day if she could. Molly Malone who is amazingly graceful on her feet for such a big dog, who is two years younger than Murdoch but acts like she is at least two years older, who has gigantic ears and piercing eyes and who has become a little bright spot in our neighbourhood.
Snow continues to sift down from the bright sky as we wind our way along the trail through the woods. We kick up swirls with our feet; send snow spraying out like white surf crashing against us on its way to shore. Two black shapes cut the trail ahead, one hops eagerly after the other, ears pointing to the sky, and I follow not too far behind.