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Travels With Maggie: The Muffled Sounds of Winter

Our Short Winter Has Arrived

Two inches of snow isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s enough to turn my two dogs into frolicking puppies, and that’s what this walk is all about . . . FUN! These two canines absolutely adore the snow, so let’s get started. Put on your galoshes and join us, won’t you?

Won't you join us?

Won't you join us?

The Physics of It All

I’m sure there is some scientific explanation for it, some logical Point A to Point B sort of thing to explain why a fresh snowfall muffles sound so efficiently, baffles and waffles and egghead vernacular, but I’m not interested in any of that right now, this moment, this perfect moment. A logical reason would spoil the magic of it, you know, take away the mystery, and I’m into mystery big time as we silently walk on the white carpet of imagination, the sounds of civilization gone, like standing on the surface of the moon gone, and I just think it is too cool for words . . . literally!

It takes me back to my childhood and the same sense of wonder, waking up in the morning after a fresh snowfall, walking out the front door, and confronted with the amazing silence, almost unnerving, like everyone else on the planet suddenly “caught the last train for the coast,” a shout out to Don McLean and his epic masterpiece, more memories associated with that song for sure.

The dogs? They don’t much care about my musings, or memories, or any other human nonsense. These walks are all about fun and exploration, and off they go, into the woods, chasing after God knows what on this fine, sparkling white day.

Hypothermia Is for Humans

I swear, I’m absolutely certain that dogs can get hypothermia, right? But you’d never know it to watch Maggie and Tobias. They sprint and gallop to the pond and splash around for a bit, twenty-nine degrees, playing in the water, then sprinting through the snow, sticking to their coats, back into the pond, and how in the holy hell do they do that and not get sick? My mind plays tricks and I’m suddenly colder than before, just from watching them, not making it up at all, I actually shivered, an uncontrollable reaction to their nonchalance in the face of frigid conditions.

But here’s the thing: when I was a kid . . . when we were kids . . . we would play for hours out in the snow. Our mothers would almost have to physically drag us inside for some hot chocolate and dry clothes, you know? Our mittens could be frozen to our hands and we would want to stay out, just five minutes more, Mom, please, just one more ride down the hill on the old sled. And somehow we all survived, only to reach this point in life when the mere thought of being cold makes us cold.

How friggin’ sad is that?

Bundle up and let's go for a walk

Bundle up and let's go for a walk

The Wild Child

Toby is that and so much more. He’s eleven months old now and full of piss and vinegar, thanks Grandma, for that lovely phrase. Toby just doesn’t give a hoot about any rules. We are out there, on these walks, to have fun, and by God if that means chasing a passing car or barking at a work crew or disappearing into the woods or harassing the chickens, that is what our pup is going to do. Maggie, his perfect sister, went to obedience school, so she stands by innocently while Toby wreaks havoc on established protocols. I worry some of the folks moving onto this country lane will grow weary of Toby’s behavior but then I think that’s just my age showing, settle down, enjoy the walks and let Toby be Toby. He’s not hurting a darned thing, so where’s the harm in letting a pup be a pup? He doesn’t attack anything. He doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his beautiful body, so for as long as I’m allowed I’m just going to let him run free and enjoy the hell out of this gift of life.

Back to Childhood

And, of course, that takes me back to childhood, enjoying the hell out of life and running free.

To some of you reading this, you young whippersnappers born after, shall we say 1990, it really was quite different growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Parents were, shall we say, much more lax in their supervision of children. I had one rule to follow when out playing with friends, and that rule was to be in before dark. If I was going on a bike ride I had to tell my mother where I was going, but that was the only restriction. We went for rides to Point Defiance Park, to downtown Tacoma, to Titlow Swimming Pool, and all points east, west, north, and south, wherever the hell we felt like riding, but we had to be back by dark.

The only warning given to us: be careful . . . whatever that meant! It would be impossible to count the number of times I came home with cuts and scratches and bruises and torn pants, and my Mom seemed oblivious to it all. She would put some orange liquid stuff on it, slap on a BandAid, and send me out the door for more adventure.

Hell, I took the city bus home after school, without supervision, by the time I was ten. I would come home, fix myself a snack, do my homework, and go play with friends until my parents came home from work. Today they call that being a latchkey kid; back then we called it living.

The whole point being there was greater freedom back then, and much less fear, and that’s how I want Maggie and Tobias to grow up, free to run and free of fear, and wouldn’t it just be too cool for words if we could return to those days, free to run and free of fear?

Ain’t going to happen and that’s just the real of it!

A good time for some hot chocolate, don't you think?

A good time for some hot chocolate, don't you think?

The Old Man Has Had Enough

Wanna have some fun with a puppy? Toss snowballs up in the air and watch him try to catch them! The first one shocks the hell out of Toby, but after that he is eager and having a great time, the snow exploding as he clamps down on another “ball,” and me laughing so hard I think my ribs will snap in the cold.

And Maggie looking at us both like we’ve lost our minds.

It’s time to go home. I can’t feel my toes any longer, and my fingers aren’t responding real well to commands given.

The dogs are disappointed but they did have a new experience, one they will remember fondly, so it was worth a few cold toes and fingers. I open the truck door and my two beauties jump up in and assume their travelling positions. It’s time to go home and they get a treat and a pat on the head just because.

How about you? Did you enjoy the walk? You can find us most days, about this same time, where the pavement ends and the wonder begins, just an old man and his two dogs, walking down a country road.

See you soon!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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