“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Part II, Day 21: Winter with Zoe

Our first full day together again, we woke up to winter.  It had been almost-80 in recent memory, and now there was snow on the ground.

I thought of a line from Winter, by Rick Bass:
Sometimes I want summer and green grass to come, but sometimes I feel like I've committed my life to winter, moving up here, and what's more, I've fallen in love with it, and have gotten used to it, and can't picture there not being snow under my feet.
When I started "Winter with Zoe" this past December, it was meant to be the title of 108 consecutive days of meditating every morning and living mindfully with my dog, whose days are numbered, but whose spirit and equanimity are remarkable.  One season: a protracted glorious wintry season.

Then the title, as I began the second set of posts this month, became aspirational.  As in, Next year in Jerusalem.  Another Winter with  Zoe.  That remains my goal, if it is possible without straining her, without compromising her quality of life.

On some days that goal seems quite attainable.  And then, when x-rays are studied, numbers compared, medical studies read: gloom descends.  But when I look at my dog and she looks at me, I see vitality and strength and endurance.

This wind and cold are welcome here; they are comforting reminders of the recent past: our very rich winter days together.  A season in which I have seen no patisserie windows or camels, attended no plays or concerts, and shopped for nothing other than dog food, dog medicines, farm food, and great books.  An exceedingly quiet winter spent at home, in a village of 6,000, in the far North in the United States, walking through snow and ice and, now and then, some unseasonably green grass, and wildflowers, and early crocuses, with Zoe.  The very best winter of my life.

When Zoe first sees snow, she pounces on it, as though it were alive.  And then she walks with her jaw dragging on the ground so that she can taste it with every step.

Not long after lunch, we crossed the river and followed the path.  We had to go soon, or the snow would disappear.  The snow was melting as we walked, and I called her my slush puppy before we were through.

We saw white buds opening above white snow: a sight I had never seen before.

The hawks' calls pierced both our silent reveries.  Zoe tipped her head up to the sky, and we watched them land high up on the scotch pine.  Some frightened gulls swooped around in a kind of crazy eight and disappeared.  Very few people were out.  Jackets that had been packed away came out, and hoods were cinched tight.  I was happy to be reunited with my ankle-length black down coat.

It was like going back in time.  Back to February.  Like giving my sabbatical and the dog's longevity another two months.

Bass also writes:
Anything I'm guilty of is forgiven when snow falls.  I feel powerful . . . [O]ut in the field, in snow, standing with my arms spread out, as if calling it down, the way it shifts and sweeps past in slants and furies all its own, the way it erases things until it is neither day nor night--that kind of light all through the day, dusk, several hours early, and lingering, lingering forever.
I am never going to grow old.  The more that comes down, the richer I am.
The snow gives me that sense of power today.  But dusk comes late, which is what we want in an April day, and the sky isn't bright.  We don't care.  We see more clouds than stars, more snow to come, or freezing rain, but I think of this weather as a reprieve, a return, a correction, a reminder not only to keep the winter clothes accessible, although that's probably a good idea, but simply not to let time move too fast, not to let these moments slip away as easily as late snow melting in spring.

The view from the kitchen window when I woke up Monday morning

Walking to the studio, I soaked my socks through my clogs.

Zoe decided to take her morning nap with me, instead of in the house.  We spent every part of the day together.

The view out my studio window as I worked on my novel.

Even with this wintry flashback, she wants to spend some time staring at the river from the balcony

I love the way she offered me her profile for this picture.  Often, she turns away just when she hears the snap.  This time, she posed.