… and I don’t just mean the temperature these days.
This morning I decided to brave the cold, deal with the icy patches and get out and just clear my head … perhaps air out my brain and get the kinks out of my legs while I was at it. I figured the usual jaunt to Council Point Park would not happen as we’ve had a few bouts of snow this week, so, rather than high-steppin’ around the piled-up snow on the perimeter path, I would just pound the pavement in the neighborhood and perhaps stroll over to Memorial Park as well.
I packed up some bread I took from the freezer. I don’t mind storing loaves of bread or bagels up there as they can be toasted and still taste good, but I had some pocket bread that got that funky taste and smell of freezer burn, and I knew the wild birds would be glad for it, so I shredded it up, grabbed some peanuts and off I went.
It turned out to be a trip filled with close encounters of the strange kind.
Even though I wanted to air my brain out, the wind chill was +15 degrees after all, so I donned my big Sherpa hat, even though it scares me sometimes when I look in the mirror at myself. It tends to slide down past my ears and the brim rests on my eyeglasses. Well, I’m walking for exercise and I’m not trying to be a fashionista, so I don that warm hat, despite resembling a sheep while wearing it.
I sauntered past the golden retriever at the corner house. While this particular breed of dog is supposed to be the friendliest and most mild-mannered of all canines, this particular one runs back and forth repeatedly barking at me the entire time, any day of the year, with or without the hat, I might add. I feel that the snarling and baring of the teeth is really a little over the top but I usually say “good morning” anyway when I go past him.
I continued on my way, mumbling “whatever” and shaking my head, causing my hat to slip down just a little further and so I hiked it up with a mittened hand. I bent my head down a little more as the wind whipped up suddenly and stung my face. It was just as well, since I needed to scope out the sidewalks which had some black ice and pools of water which had frozen in the uneven parts of the pavement. So, walking was a little dicey as I hopscotched around the icy patches and crunched down on salt pebbles that were strewn by anxious homeowners hoping to avoid a slip and fall on their property.
It was then that I heard the heavy breathing and looked up … I saw that “Fade” spotted me at the same time and shot me a look that could kill.
Fade is an old and ornery pit bull that lives in the next block. I often see her owner walking her as I wend my way down to Council Point Park. I try not to cross paths with that pair while they are out for their daily constitution – Larry is okay, but she has a rather surly disposition, and despite the fact that she is so fat that she waddles, she always gives me “the look”, like she’d pounce on me in a heartbeat if Larry wasn’t on the other end of the leash. Larry says “don’t mind her – she won’t hurt you” but I step back a foot or two while I chat with him each and every time. Please understand that I like dogs and I’m quick to stoop down and pat one or scratch behind a dog’s ears if speaking with its owner, but there is something eerie about her eyes. She just doesn’t like me … I know it.
I wished Larry “Happy New Year” and gave the same salutation to Fade, who was resplendent in her navy wool coat that could not even buckle beneath her belly as she is so heavy. But don’t let that girth fool you. I bet she could chase you down and up a tree – you would be the one in the tree shaking and clinging on for dear life. As I chatted with Larry, she stared me down and started to growl again, that long and low growl that a dog does when it doesn’t like you. I stepped back another foot or so, just as Larry said “you know Fade ain’t gonna hurt you” (despite her growling at me the entire time). He pointed to my hat and said “she is scared of your hat” so I said “I’m leaving anyway” and turned on my heel and left, muttering to myself that I was not going to be her breakfast snack.
I hightailed it to Memorial Park, angry that I fell prey to this dog’s orneriness and cut short my neighborhood jaunt … in fact, it made me ornery as well.
I strolled through the Park, happy to be freed of that critter with the penetrating eyes, pink spotted snout and perpetual pout. I pulled my camera out from my coat and slung it around my neck, and got my bag of goodies ready to dispense as needed.
First, I saw a few sparrows and walked to their tree, scattering the crumbs for them to come down and feast. They took one look at me and flew away – “your loss” I called out as they landed at another tree, then realizing how stupid that might have sounded if there were any humans within earshot, I looked around, then added “there are other hungry birds around here who will be more appreciative of my treats” … but there were none.
I strolled one complete lap in the snowy grass and then came upon a pair of squirrels – they were running up and down and around a huge tree chasing one another, rather frivolous behavior in the cold, but maybe they were trying to warm up or getting the kinks out as well. I tossed them some peanuts – they took a look at me and beat it across the expanse of Memorial Park.
Okay, I can take a hint.
I came home and removed that hat – was it the pompom, the wide brim and high Sherpa pile that somehow tarnished my usual good karma?
I left the house wearing a grin and toting treats … I returned refreshed from the walk and rebuffed by the critters along the way.
Next time I’m going to Council Point Park where I am appreciated for myself (and my treats – of course).