JD Allinder

The Quiet Before the Storm?

In Posts on February 9, 2010 at 12:31 am

Winter’s my favorite season, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than an intense one – the colder and snowier the better. This year’s has been a dud. We’ve had zero snow days, and I’ve only had to wear long johns twice. Twice! On a good year, I’ll wear them daily for several weeks. There’s still a chance that Old Man Winter can redeem himself by showing up better-late-than-never and lingering into the spring (fingers crossed), but at this point that feels pretty unlikely.

Today was a picture perfect spring day. Jane and I took our routine post-lunchtime walk at Saginaw Forest in Ann Arbor. The sky was uncharacteristically cloudless, and the sun was a little brighter than it has been, a little bit higher in the sky. The mean temperature was in the upper 20s – which, thankfully, kept the mud frozen – but the intensity of the sun and the absence of wind made it feel more like April than February. The black squirrels were out in full force – I think they’re so cool – and the song birds were having a field day. (In general, I’ve noticed a relatively large number of robins this year, which indicates that food is more plentiful in the region than in winters past.) People were actually in the woods, too, which is rare for this time of year. We saw a couple walking hand-in-hand, two cross country runners, and a guy with a clipboard taking notes (a student?). We also ran into a young woman named Susan and her Irish setter, Henry.

Jane loved Henry. She sang for him and wrestled him to the ground and chewed on his ears. It was neat meeting Henry, because I was thinking just a couple of days ago that I haven’t seen an Irish setter in ages. They seem to have fallen out of popularity, and it’s a shame because they’re such handsome dogs. I’m a big fan of Jim Kjelgaard’s Big Red trilogy, which I mentioned to Susan (whose hair is the same color as Henry’s, by the way) and she and her husband have read and enjoyed the books, too. Henry is two years old, and he was adopted from an Irish setter rescue somewhere in western Michigan. (I forgot the name of the town.) Henry was a perfect playmate for Jane. Their energy levels were pretty even, and he liked to play like a real dog with Jane. (She loves rough play, which, for experimental reasons that I’ll maybe expound on another day, I don’t engage in.)

After we said goodbye to Henry, we walked several miles on our own. Jane remained off-leash and listened beautifully to my vocal and whistle commands. She’s becoming such a great companion on the trail. Just in the past few weeks I’ve noticed an increase in her attention to and interest in me. I think she finally trusts me.

Jane engaged me in a game of stick while we walked. I threw, she retrieved and chewed, we played tug-of-war – all while walking. She derived insane amounts of enjoyment from this and was exceptionally vocal about her delight.

Just when it was time to leave, we ran into the endearingly-eccentric-though-well-to-do older woman with golden retrievers Becky and Jody. (We met her and her dogs in the woods near Radrick Farms in October.) She had a friend with her, and her friend had a retriever, too, named Indy. The dogs were all very sweet and affectionate, but Jane wasn’t too interested in them. I think they’re too dignified and well-mannered for my little rascal.

On our way home we heard on NPR that a winter storm is moving into southeast Michigan tomorrow. The snow should begin in the afternoon and continue for about 24 hours. They’re calling for 10 to 12 inches. I’m very excited, and I so hope the predictions prove correct.

  1. You need to move to Kalamazoo. We are having a wintry winter of winters over here. Cold and snowy and snowy and cold every day!

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