SHOOT! A Dog in Snow.

There is a scene – an opening scene, as I recall – in a book called “Blue Ridge,” by one of my favourite writers, T.R. Pearson, in which a man, frustrated beyond patience by a dog of peculiar habits, must aim a gun at it in order to get it to just pee. The dog will not relieve itself unless a handgun is pointed at it. Every day. Every time.

How anyone could not keep reading after that is a mystery to me. (Go get yourself a T.R. Pearson novel now. I recommend that you start wirh “A Short History of a Small Place” and move on from there.)

So it snowed and is snowing quite a lot in town, and, like everywhere I’ve ever lived, the attitude towards pedestrian traffic, egress, congress, and any kind of mobility outside one’s own domicile without an automobile is, basically, “F*ck you!”. I have a car, but I must walk the dog. Four times a day, for the good of both of us. Yesterday afternoon, and last night, after “snow removal” by the city and property owners, Espresso and I walked around the block, me sliding in the churned depths of what’s left after the “sidewalk””plough” has “cleared” the “walks,” and he eventually trotting along in the over-salted paths that opened up to us near the municipal parking lot.

Note that I have a pair of nearly military-grade, men’s, Timberland(TM) winter boots. Heavy, orthotic, toasty, comfortable, and despite the stupid laces, the best damned boots I’ve ever had. They are a workout without leg or knee or hip strain. Ugly, pants tucked into socks ugly, and excellent.

Here’s Espresso, circa -25C polar snap 2014 in Toronto, with a coat:

Espresso has pads, and fluff between the pads, and nails. He doesn’t cry when the road/rock salt burns his feet. When he limps, I’ve got to get him onto a salt-free patch, and, preferably, home.

It was a quick walk. He peed. He just would not “go”. So this morning, of course, out we go again.

Great pee. No “go”.

It was minus 7 degrees Celsius, and windy. (Twenty degrees for you Americans.)

So around and hither and yon we walk, but not on our usual route, because I don’t want to go down to the river, where the wind is always biting. And we walk. And walk. And he stops. And T.R. Pearson pops into my head, and down to the river we go.

I led him out off the path onto the expanse of deep, untrodden white and begged him to hurry up, to get busy, to go. And my boy, my belatedly clever boy, took the hint and dragged me around and over and beside and to a thigh-deep drift and finally!

We could come home. On the roads. Because, overnight, the road ploughs piled up what the sidewalk ploughs had pushed onto the roads, and there isn’t a dignified or pretty way to slog over curb mounds as high as my hips, just to jump over them again on the other side.

No gun. Never a gun.  Just a yen to read one of my favourie writers again, and a fantasy of inventing a sidewalk plough that does what it’s name implies.

Happy reading!

SANTA CLAUS PARADE!! Small Town Style.

I didn’t remember to take my phone, with its camera – and I’m glad.

I’m also glad I live in a place where advertisements, banners, newspaper notices, and PARADE banners bearing the words “Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade” carry no evil or untoward connotations of any kind – unless you are a jealous supporter of the Rotary Club, and they were in the parade, too.

I have never seen so many huge, beautiful, shiny & chromed-up industrial trucks, tow trucks, crane trucks, vintage fire trucks, emergency response trucks, beach patrol jeepy things, lawn care company trucks, petroleum industry pickup trucks, and whatever a “Badger ™ Daylighter” is. (Underground excavation with lighting, is my guess from the massive vehicle’s impressive attachments.) Some of the guys driving and pulling the flatbed floats had their wide-eyed, happy toddlers on their knees. Some of the guys made sure the trucks made a lot of noise. It was suitably festive and awe-inspiring, especially if – like me – you enjoy feeling five years old. And I did. Thanks to LEDs, twinkling lights were festooned everywhere. The crowd was devoted and big, but small town big, with room enough to see all.

The parade was to start at Exmouth at six p.m., and was to make its way down Christina Street to Wellington. That might be about two kilometres. I live in the middle. At six, I could see the police lights approaching, so I went downstairs in my new, long puffy coat, and sat in its toasty warmth on a low concrete wall for over an hour at one of the best Santa Claus parades I’ve ever seen.

It started with the police playing with their flashing lights and sirens and waving like lunatics. Next, a car dealership transported the local Noteworthies: village, town, municipality, province and federal representatives, who were riding in many examples of fun, glossy automobiles. Some of the Worthies walked between the dealership’s fine offerings. Symbolic and silly, because the kids had eyes only for noise, sparkle, and THE MAN, THAT MAN, THAT NORTH POLE MAN.

Everybody in the parade, which must have been the half of the population of Southwestern Ontario and some of our Michigan neighbours not sitting or standing along the street watching – waved, and waved, and sang, and shouted greetings, or handed out candy. Except one little girl on the softball organization’s trailer, who was UTTERLY FLAKED OUT. She’ll go down as The Kid Who Slept Through The 2016 Parade, Despite the Noise and Enthusiastic Hubbub.

My favourite participants included ten real tricked-out cowgirls on tricked-out western-style horses. Two of the women stood on their saddles for the duration. Astoundingly impressive. If you look them up on Google, they’re not the porn ones. They’re Then there were THE WESTERN OUTLAWS!!! Whose banner hinted at mayhem -nay! Danger! – until we all saw “EXTREME LAWN MOWER RACERS”, with some of their members speeding and scooting around trucks and paraders and marchers in expectedly EXTREME daredevil fashion. Not a few guys got some ideas there.

One of the churches persuaded a large number of teenagers to sit morosely and motionless in fake beards and bedsheets on a flatbed helpfully named JESUS IS BORN. PERIOD. I believe they were Lutheran, and they do not go in for exclamation points. We have all been invited to services on Sunday, too, which was nice. The best part about that flatbed, though, was the two sheep in a crate under a spotlight: one chewing thoughtfully, the other bearing a haughty look of absolute disgust.

But it was a concrete cutting business, which shall go unnamed, that wins my prize for Minimalist and Slightly Begrudging Effort. I can hear one end of the telephone conversation:

“Angelo! They want money for the parade again!”

‘We still got those lights?’

“They only go over the top of the front windshield on the cube van!”

‘Put the lights on the truck and tell your brother he’s driving again this year.’

“He won’t wave at anybody, Angelo.”

‘So he doesn’t wave.’

They do driveways, pools, and assorted concrete cutting. And in a small town, you just put your truck in the parade. TA DA! Christmas.

There was a scaled down old-fashioned train with matching WHOOO-WHOOOO! that may have been a recording.

There were some excellent drummers, and a couple of radio stations, and some impressively in-tune and on-beat high school marching bands. A Christian school collected for The Good Shepherd food bank.

The company that owns and manages my apartment building and others in town had a flatbed themed “Finding Nemo/Dory”. Fish costumed persons shook hands with tots along the route.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten somebody. It was an hour of fun, with no break in the moving presentation.

In the elevator, I asked a teenager if he’d seen Santa.

“My friends thought it was stupid, but, yeah.”

You got a candy cane out of it, too, I said.

“I like being a kid,” he said.

Me, too.