Bryn and I wandered about our fenced, three-acre grounds in the dark of early morning two days ago, enjoying the snowstorm, which seemed to delight in disorienting me. I closed my eyes, turned around once, and lost all sense of which way was where. This blizzard, which has dropped five fluffy inches so far, has managed to blot out most visual markers. Bryn vanished, as her snow-white fleece blends perfectly with the environment. But her nose always knew precisely where I am. I could hear her rocketing around the house’s perimeter and grounds, fast as a fleeing deer. Bryn loves winter, even when it’s seven degrees above zero. The great poofs of dry powder she always creates during these ecstasy fits made for quarter-second glimpses of her position and speed, even in the dark.
(Once again this winter I’ve trimmed away her beard, leaving only close-cut fur, to prevent the rapid accumulation of ice and snowballs that would otherwise weigh down her eyelids and mouth, effectively blinding her and sealing her lips. I’ve even trimmed around and between her paws. Hard snow and ice balls will eventually accumulate there, but won’t prove debilitating as soon.
That is, it might take ten minutes to cause distress, instead of one. Bryn’s unusual fleece coat takes on snow differently from normal coats.)
Suddenly she intercepted an unusually slow, thin black squirrel trying to get to a nearby tree trunk and safety. After having made multiple enormous jumps through the deep snow he’d begun moving very much slower, and looked exhausted. Without thinking, Bryn scooped him up. The squirrel, her long body parked upside down between Bryn’s jaws, glared up at her; Bryn sat down suddenly, too surprised by her catch to move to Step Two. Instead, she peered at it, perplexed. Ten feet away I saw what might happen next and commanded, “LEAVE IT!” Glancing over at me her eyes registered surprise, but she obediently opened her jaws and dumped the shocked rodent into the deep white featherbed. Awkwardly righting himself he walked three feet to the trunk and ascended it with the last of his strength. Bryn still sat, watching him, thinking, her tongue polishing her whiskers, tasting the squirrel’s ‘after(the close)shave.’
He seemed uninjured. Bryn’s jaws are extremely powerful, but she possesses a soft retriever mouth. I think the little guy probably would have escaped even if I hadn’t yelled the command. Bryn, too surprised by the novelty, wouldn’t have applied killing pressure, I mused, remembering the furious, cheek-banging bumblebees she’d carried around at Sunnybank. Eventually she’d opened up and they’d staggered up and away, shedding a con-trail of saliva that flavored their pollen sacs...
One can never be absolutely sure where a bee and his loot have been, eh?
**One more little tidbit- actually you could consider this offering as a wee holiday gift suggestion from yours truly-
Experience excellent food, beautifully presented, at Reflect, part of Cambrian Suites, a hotel at 255 Munson Avenue in Traverse City. Wow. The dining room is small, bright and cheerful, and Chef Dan (who used to cook masterpieces for The Boathouse Restaurant on Mission Peninsula), and his staff do a superb job of making one’s dining experience memorable. If he’s ‘on’ he’ll come out to our table to personally deliver the dishes, and to make sure all is well. Joe and I treat ourselves when we wish to celebrate big and small triumphs. I absolutely love Chef Dan’s sauces, especially on, and as a bed for, his succulent salmon and pork chops. Believe me, he and the other chef are talented.