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.