January 1: A young Labrador retriever stood at attention on a slight hill, looking east. Across the street in her own yard, a second dog, identical right down to the collar, held the same position looking west. Neither moved. Even I felt the tension and the possibility. Then the first dog broke free and sprinted across the street, disappearing through the looking glass.
January 2: Our sweaters were too warm, but happily the beer was cold. Kathy and I wound through my neighborhood enjoying Christmas decorations and pushing through the warm muggy air to our local brewery. On the way home, we looked up. Are those snow clouds? Always the predictions, but rarely the event. And the thermometer read 65. I’ll dream anyway.
January 3: Surprise! Piles of heavy wet beautiful snow greeted us this morning, six or seven inches of bright white quilt batting that, until afternoon, quieted all movement. Looking out the window, my son Nate started the text chain: something about losing his keys to the hall closet. Jeremiah quickly added on: “The one with the Christmas presents?”
We were off and running, flinging dialogue from that Fibber McGee and Molly radio show we listen to on Christmas Eve. Unlike Fibber, none of us was quite ready to shovel. But like Fibber, Nate brought grouchy charm to this splendid winter day.
January 4: When the snow finally stopped yesterday, the neighborhood ventured outdoors to push and pile all that winter cotton. For our snow-starved Virginia town, the heavy work also lightened hearts. As night fell, three neighbors joined me to clear our friend Jennifer’s driveway. I think the kindness is always there; sometimes we just need to be standing outside together — with the tools resting on our shoulders and a chance to use them.
January 5: I left the library late enough to marvel at the setting sun. From my path, peppered with buildings and trees, I didn’t get an expansive view. But the planet Mars appeared to be paying a call. I wasn’t the only one marveling. My friend Eileen captured an image that seemed to be plant, animal and mineral all at once.
January 6: Walking through the woods, I forgot my headphones. So I had to listen to the laughing creek, its belly full of snow melt. I also forgot my camera. So I had to linger on the bank, gazing at the limbs of the fallen tree and their reflection, two sets of curved fingers cupping the snow between them. And I forgot my notepad, which means I need to try to remember all of these delights.
I left all those things behind, but I did bring along a bit of wisdom: even if I didn’t record a memory for future reflection, I had those beautiful moments in an unfurling present.
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