blocked by a ridge of snow
Tuesday, January 3 2006
setting: Silver Spring, Maryland
Gretchen's mother had been ill for days but today Gretchen herself took ill. One theory had it that our little nephew brought the disease back from his daycare center, but it seemed to be spreading too rapidly to have ridden in on that vector. Someone once told me that a cold has to incubate for two weeks (something I've observed a few times). Since today Gretchen and I would be driving back to New York, I would be doing all the driving so that Gretchen could stretch out in the passenger seat and possibly recuperate.
I was in Sligo Creek Park this morning walking all four dogs (Sally, Eleanor, Oliver, and Hansi, the latter two being the purebred Standard Poodles who live with Gretchen's parents). I was doing it the way Gretchen always does it, with the dogs all off leash, gamboling hither and yon. It's not usually much of a problem when the weather is as it was today: cold, overcast, and clammy. But as I was heading back from the walk, along came a couple with a lovely grey mongrel on a very short leash, the only kind of leash one ever sees deployed in the tight ass world of Silver Spring. Any time anyone else shows up in the park it's always A Problem because Oliver is something of a psycho doggie. He bounds up to all strangers, barking in a way that seems threatening. Nothing much is going on in that sharply sagitated head of his (concealed as it is beneath a poof of anachronistic 80s-style hair), so it's hard to say he's being aggressive. Perhaps, unlike the leader of the free world, he's just being curious. But in Silver Spring, the attitude of the accosted is always one of "Sir, can you please leash your dog," even when no actual words are used. The guy holding the short leash for the grey mongrel had developed a look on his face suggesting a recent encounter with a lemon. It was a horrible and completely unnecessary look. "Go home!" he shouted at Oliver futilely. By now Sally and Eleanor were also milling around their potential friend. For some reason I felt the need to convey that Oliver wasn't my dog and that I had something in common with someone walking a shelter dog, even if he was making a persimmon face and demonstrating a permanent toilet training scar with his choice of dog leash. "God I hate purebreds!" I muttered, waving the dogs on. I don't actually hate purebreds, of course; they can't help it that they're here. I'm just awfully partial to my own mutts, who came into this world completely unwanted.
Rain began falling not long into our northward drive, turning to snow about two thirds of the way up through New Jersey. By then Gretchen was completely asleep, and she didn't reawaken until I was just about to take the Kingston exit off the NY Thruway. I had to park on the side of Dug Hill Road because our driveway was blocked by a ridge of snow heaped up by a passing snowplow.
There had been an ice storm (which is rare in this climate) during our absence. Power had been knocked out for many hours but was now restored. Our phone, though, was making a strange muted whirring noise that was most definitely not a dial tone. So began a vaguely Kafkaesque ordeal with Verizon trying to get them to come out and fix the problem. It didn't help that we were reliant on cellphones, which work poorly in our house if at all.
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