Footprints


We had a blizzard the day after Christmas.  Well . . . what they call a blizzard down here in Connecticut.  High winds, certainly, but little snow; far less than I’ve come to expect from a blizzard in 53 years.  I’m probably the only person in the state who complains about a lack of snow.

Anyway, I was sitting in the office gazing out the window, staring at the blanket of white that covered our yard, and found myself wondering why it didn’t look normal.  It took me a moment to realize, and the understanding wrenched my heart a little.

There were no doggy footprints.

For twelve years, the pristine hand of the snow lay undisturbed only for the amount of time it took me to open the back door and let the dogs out.  Neither Bella nor Tucker liked water, but oh! didn’t they love snow!

The first big snow we had after moving here coincided with their adoption in 1998.  One morning, with nary a flake in the forecast, we woke to a full-fledged storm — huge flakes, better than a foot of snow on the ground with more to come.  The pups — barely three months old, charged out the door, took one look at this wonderful show we were putting on for them, and went mad with joy.  We have pictures of Bella rolling Tucker over and over in the snow, tails wagging, eyes bright.

It was the same thing every year.

I’ve always been a fan of snow, but I’m not sure who loved it more — them or me.  A favorite game was “King of the Mountain,” where Tucker would climb atop the highest mound of shoveled snow and dare Bella to try to unseat him.  Another game was for them to bury their heads in the snow and burrow along like moles.  Sometimes Tucker, overcome with the joy of it all, would throw himself on his back and just roll and roll and roll.

That’s all gone now.

There was a time when I would sometimes lament over the messed up snow, longing for a pristine view of unbroken white, sunlight glimmering off it.  Foolish me.  Now I’d give anything to watch them charge through the flakes one more time, secure in the knowledge that this fun was created just for them, to hear their barking, watch the light in their eyes as they chased each other back and forth.  I’d give anything for a glimpse of footpads in the snow and know they belong to me.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Connecticut, Dogs, Essays, Melissa Crandall, Memoir, Memory, pet death, Pets, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Footprints

  1. MJ says:

    Wow Melissa – this post brought a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes. Thank you for that. I wish I could have known, seen, Bella and Tucker rolling in the snow like you described, and from your description, I almost could. What a sight it must have been, and what wonderful memories you have to carry you through the coming days, weeks, months. I’m honored to call you my friend – loving animals as much as you do, to me, means your heart is as deep and wide as the ocean. I love you, my friend.

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