“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”

—  Bern Williams

I slept in this morning.  This is a rare event, and it only occurs once or twice each year.  As I think back to the other times, I realize that this often takes place when it snows overnight.  There is something hypnotic about the way falling snow muffles the sounds on the street that puts me deep into a dreamy state of sleep.  I awoke to four inches of white covering everything.  My first thought was how nice it was to have this snow on a Saturday when we have nowhere to go.  My second thought was the realization that my Favorite Child had left at 7AM for an early shift at work, which meant that it was my responsibility to take the puppy for his morning walk.  I pulled the covers tightly around my chin and tried to will myself back to sleep, but I knew there was no escaping it — I would just have to layer up and make my way to the park.

I have to admit that once I was on my feet, which were in double socks and insulated boots, I felt a bit excited to step out into the first snow of winter.  Patches led the way; and the minute his paws hit the white stuff, I knew this would be no meditative walk that would lead me into the quiet inner spaces of my winter self.  With a leap and two bounds, the cocker spaniel catapulted into the backyard.  He jumped so high that for a moment I thought his leash might be a kite string and that I would have to reel him in when our walk was done.  I gave a tug, and caught his eye, and soon we were moving on all six feet toward the park.

Cocker spaniels lead with their noses, and soon Patches’ nose was crusted in snow.  It didn’t seem to bother him one bit, and I have to admit that I soon forgot about the snow that was collecting in the hair along the edge of my ski cap.  We spotted one of his puppy friends, and soon the two dogs were frolicking and leaping, their paws leaving trails over every square foot of snow in the park.

As I watched them play, fully committed to the moment, it reminded me of the years when my children were small and they would come to the kitchen door looking like abominable snowmen after fifteen minutes of rolling in the snow.  I also remembered my own childhood and the excitement of waking in the morning to a world turned white.  Without a silly puppy to lick my face, I probably would have missed out on the wonder, the thrill, and the unbridled joy of blazing the first trail through the first snow of winter.