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.