Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I am not a winter person. Try as I might, I simply cannot reconcile myself with the cold. Snow, I can handle. The cold is a torment. Living in Quebec means that I don't have a choice, I have to live in it. And I am not content with just enduring what is presently swirling outside my window. I feel like I need to find some way to embrace it, some reason to welcome winter. The first step, as always is admitting the truth, which is that I am not a winter person.

I took a walk today. In the Spring, Summer and Autumn, I walk down our kilometre long lane almost every day, sometimes twice. I am always accompanied by Mini, our dog, and Frodo, my cat. I cherish these walks. I do not do this for my health, although I know that there is much benefit to it. I walk because it feeds my soul. My favorite time for walking is twilight. I have walked down the lane towards a rising full moon, then turned to walk back to the sight of our home in a glorious sunset backdrop. The corn rustling in the fields, the birds heading in noisy flocks back to the forest behind the house for the night, the still, fragrant air, the cool of summer evening, the gentle sound of crickets in the grass, the friendliness of Mini racing through the cornfield, and of Frodo pouncing on frogs in the lane...it is a quiet, peaceful, thoughtful time.

Sometimes during these walks my thoughts are anything but peaceful. A twilight country lane walk is a wonderful place to work out ideas and to release irritations and old hurts. Our lane should be littered with discarded resentments, but somehow it is always clean and fresh for the next walk. My time on the lane is magical.

I have to admit, in the winter the lane holds a different kind of magic. It smells fresh and clean. There is a muted hush in which the faintest rustle sends Frodo careening into the ditch after whatever dreaded foe dare move a twig of dry grass in it's travels. (Frodo is a master hunter of worms, flies and the odd ladybug when he is desperate for a kill, but which is never eaten, no matter how great his desperation.) Because walks are so rare in the winter, Mini is extravagantly exuberant at even the mention of one. She becomes a quivering, frantic, desperate whining mess if she even hears the word "walk". Or "talk", "gawk" and "stock" for that matter. So, on our walk this morning, she raced up and down the lane several times to Frodo's and my one. She also ran over Frodo twice, which she usually doesn't do, and which sent Frodo into a hissing fit of fury. It was snowing and cold this morning, and everything looked white and clean. I was bundled up like a two year old on a snow hill. I didn't actually walk the lane as much as I waddled down it. But I did come home feeling better. And so that is something.

I am beginning to suspect that my motivation to go out into the wild white yonder might actually be the animals. Mini loves being outside with her people, and it brings her great joy to walk with me. Frodo is just a kitten, only 8 months old, and this is his first winter. He is showing signs of being as wussy in the cold as I am. Frankly, we all need this. Writing is a solitary, indoor endeavor. Twilight comes early now, often sneaking by before I even get supper on the table. Spending the next few months holed up in the house hunched over a keyboard, sipping tea and chewing pens and waiting for replies and staring at the ice hanging off of the porch could very well take me all the way into the stereotype of the maniacal writer...all I'll need to complete the persona is a dead plant on the desk (oops, got that), a stogie and a bottle of scotch tucked in the desk top drawer.

So at least a few times a week, weather permitting, I am going to bundle up like the Pillsbury dough boy, release my frantic dog, snatch up the reluctant cat and head out for a walk.

When I am not walking, I'll be waiting.

Waiting for daffodils.

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