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A Frosty Morning


“Okay guys, let’s go outside and take care of business,” I say as I open the door.  Mary, Sally and Eli jostle their way out, bouncing off my legs. I follow behind, pulling my bathrobe tight around my body against the blowing snow and below freezing temperature.  I must be quite the sight in my winter boots, ratty bathrobe and bed-head hair.  Thank goodness our house is sheltered by trees.

The tree limbs are heavy with thick snow weighing down the branches and only two tire tracks on the long driveway are visible from when Mike left hours ago.

“Come on, Eli, take care of business.”  He is the dawdler and will ignore his bladder if we don’t keep after him.  He stops by a bush and lifts his leg, then puts it back down without doing anything and heads toward the door.  

“Nice try, buddy,” I say. “Now take care of it for real this time.” He starts to lift his leg against the porch beam. “Uh, uh. Now get out there.” He wanders over to a tree and this time he does pee.

Sally wanders down the driveway a bit when a deer bursts out of the orchard and runs in front of her and into the woods.  The fur on Sally’s back stands up and she hops up and down in one spot.  On the down she takes off running after it.         

“Sally, no,” I yell.

Eli hasn’t seen the deer, thank goodness, because I know he would chase it and not stop.  Sally isn’t that adventuresome or courageous. She is standing at the edge of the woods, peering between the trees with timidity. 

“Sally, come here.” She looks at me, back at the woods, gives one bark, and runs toward the house, stopping to squat and pee.

I turn my attention to Mary who is heading down the driveway away from the house. 

“Mare,” I yell.  She is losing her hearing and only hears certain pitches.  I guess the sound of my voice when I screech “Mare” is one she hears.   Of course that doesn’t always mean she pays attention to it, and this is one of those times. She continues down the driveway.

We live in the woods with a very long driveway that empties out onto a private two-track road.  I’m not concerned about her getting hurt on the road, but I don’t want her wandering off.

I step off the porch into the snowfall. “Mare,” I try again. She stops and I breathe a sigh of relief. The last thing I want to do is chase her down the driveway in my bathrobe. She turns and looks at me as I clap my hands. “Come on, sweetie.” 

I wave my arms in the air trying to get her attention, since her eyesight is getting worse, also.  I know she sees me because she wags her tail and then, she turns and trots back down the driveway.  I start trudging after her and Eli runs ahead of me.

“No, Eli, back to the house.”  I point toward the front porch, but he must see something move in the woods because he takes off like a shot, snow flying up around him.  I hope the deer isn’t lingering.

“Eli, get back here.” 

Now Mary has turned the corner at the pole barn and I can no longer see her. The snow is so deep it is over the tops of my boots and my bare feet are now wet.  I mutter as I try to walk in the tire tracks, hoping that will help keep additional snow from falling in my boots.

“Eli, come here. Eli!” I can hear the bell on his collar, but I can’t see him through the trees.  I consider calling Mary again, but I know she won’t hear me so why waste my breath, since every time I open my mouth I can see my breath in the cold air.

I round the pole barn and look around. No Mary. I squint and peer into the woods. Nothing. Looking at the ground, I see her tracks continue down the drive, so I walk in that direction.  I stop and listen for her bell and hear a soft tinkling.  It gets louder and she emerges from the trees running and bouncing in sheer doggy joy.  I would smile except my toes are freezing.  She runs past me and toward the house. 

One down, two to go.  I turn around and with daylight rising, can make out the shape of Eli just inside the tree line. 

“Come on, Eli, let’s go.”  He bursts out of the woods and chases Mary to the house.  I hobble along, searching for the little white dog that blends in with snow.

A movement to the left catches my eye and I see snow flying into the air in short bursts.  Eli sees it, too, gives chase and pounces … on Sally. The two of them start scrapping in the deep snow, chasing each other, then stopping to wrestle, then back to chasing.

The snow is coming down harder now and my glasses are speckled. I take them off and try to wipe them on my bathrobe, but of course that is wet as well. 

“Come on, you chuckleheads, let’s get in the house.” I look up and see Mary sitting on the porch, waiting for us.  Sally and Eli fly by me as one, and I lose my balance, performing a    ballerina pirouette before landing on my butt. I stand up and continue toward the house, my teeth chattering.

I open the door and the three amigos run inside, shaking snow off their coats. If only I could do that. Mary drops to the floor, pulls snowballs off her paws and Eli eats them.  Sally shakes so hard she loses her balance and falls over, then pops back up like a jack-in-the-box.

I kick off my boots, shed my soaked bathrobe and jump back into bed to warm up.  I curl my shivering body under the blankets, with only the top of my head exposed. A wet nose nudges the blankets and I lift my arms. Sally wiggles underneath and snuggles up next to me … with her cold, wet body.

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