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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

The Road Less Traveled By (Written 1/26/21)

There is some weather in which I just won't walk.

Some adverse conditions are obvious. Lightning and extreme heat, for

example, are unsafe for both me and the dogs.

But another less obvious weather phenomenon in which I choose to stay

home is gusty wind.

It's not that I don't like wind. In fact, there are few things that can

boost my happy level more than to stand on the hill, head up and face

lifted to the tremendous gale of a southwest wind. I love it, especially

when it blows in the spring, warming the land, and warming my soul.

But walking in wind on the road is a different story.

The major problem is that, with wind gusting more than thirty miles an

hour, I simply can't hear cars approaching. No matter what direction

it's blowing from or what direction I'm traveling, wind like that makes

enough noise in the grass, the trees, and the surrounding air that it

can totally eclipse the sound of oncoming traffic.

So most of the time, in gusty wind, I've decided that discretion is the

better part of valor, and the dogs and I just stay home.

But of course, we didn't a couple of weeks ago.

It can be hard to judge the wind down in my snug little valley. My place

is low enough, and sheltered enough by timber on the north and west,

that even with serious wind blowing on the hilltops, there is notably

less down here. Multiple wind advisories and high wind warnings had

already been posted that day, and I knew it was going to get worse. If

the dogs and I were going, we had to go now.

So we went. And it was blowing hard. It blew in long, savage gusts from

the northwest, roaring and rushing and wild. By the time I finally came

to my senses and turned around, we had encountered some gusts close to

fifty miles an hour.

The interesting thing was how naughty the dogs were. With my hearing

critically compromised, they quickly deduced that I was much less

attentive and much more stressed than usual, and they took full

advantage of the fact. All over the road. Into people's yards. Dragging

behind. Snatching pieces of road kill wherever they could find it. At

one point, Banner had his retractable leash stretched all the way across

the road and was working hard to chomp up a piece of grossness when a

car came up behind us.

I do often times feel like this walking thing is a battle. I may

literally take a few thousand steps forward, but many times it's

metaphorically a few hundred more than that backward when you're

analyzing training and behavior.

Then today we went out in the rain. This time it was due to the simple

fact that I didn't relish the prospect of being cooped up in the house

with nine dogs and no exercise all day long. As the old saying goes, we

aren't made of sugar, and we won't melt. So we went.

The rain was coming down cold and steady when we headed out, and it

continued cold and steady for the entire three miles. With temperatures

hovering in the middle thirties, there were even sporadic sheets of

sharp sleet mixed in. It drew gray curtains around us and closed us in

to our own little world. Gray dusk shrouding the woods, and veils of

gray over the pastures, and gray mist across the road that made me

squint and wipe my stinging face with already-wet hands. Deep silence,

except for the thud and crunch of my boots, the tinkle of the dogs'

bells, and the incessant patter of the rain.

"Enjoy it," I told the dogs as we turned yet another corner. "I'm doing

this for you."

And enjoy it they did. They ran and romped, flinging up plumes of icy

water and spatters of mud. They got soaked. So did I. But yes, they had

a great time, thanks for asking. Maybe all of us are crazy. I know at

least one of us who is.

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