Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas, for sure!

The snow started in earnest about 8:30 a.m. Not blizzard like, but a steady fall. The ground was covered in less than an hour, and we had an official white Christmas.

Lem and Alice, visiting from Minnesota, took Willie and Nellie for a walk. Our dogs, Southern born and bred, get a little crazy in the snow. We heard on the news that the Twin Cities got six inches yesterday which makes 33 inches for the month.

Our few inches isn't much compared to our northern neighbors, but pretty just the same. Atlanta had it's first white Christmas since sometime in the 1800s.

OK, we've had our white Christmas. Now . . . it can stop.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our friend, Slick

It’s often said that dogs take on the personalities of their masters.

Take Willie, for example, my white boxer. Everyone who knows Willie would agree that he’s impetuous, impatient and always looking for his next meal, not at all unlike yours truly.

Slick, accordingly, was the image of his master, Larry. Calm, genuinely inquisitive but always measured. A medium-sized black Labrador, Slick walked many miles over the years in Deerfield with Larry at a steady gait. Willie and I would occasionally join Larry and Slick on a walk with Willie invariably wrapping all four of us up in his leash while he dragged us down the road. Slick would remain unperturbed.

Slick, like Willie, was a housedog, but he was occasionally allowed to stretch his legs and roam Deerfield on his own. One of Slick’s favorite pastimes was to jump in Deerfield Creek and wallow in the mud shallows, usually right after Larry or daughter Angela had given him a bath. Slick would high-tail it home, clamor on the front porch, anxious to show the family his refreshing mud-bath treatment.

There are other black Labs in Deerfield, but the friendly Slick could not be mistaken. He had a crook at the end of his tail that almost did a 90-degree turn. You always had the feeling that Slick was pointing at something.

Dogs in Deerfield have lots of acres to call home, so most are protective of their large territories. Slick was the only dog that had carte blanche everywhere. Dogfights are not that uncommon in Deerfield, but Slick always kept his head and was welcome everywhere.

About 18 months ago a large cancerous tumor appeared on one of Slick’s rear legs. Larry took him to the veterinarian to have it removed. Slick improved, regained most of his strength, but earlier this year a growth sprouted on the other rear leg. Over the last few months Larry and Slick made trip after trip to the veterinarian. He grew weaker by the day. Larry said last week that he came to realize that what he was doing was more for himself and the family than for Slick.

The beautiful photo above of Slick in front of the living room stove was taken in October 2009 by Larry and Marilou’s son, Jeffrey. Slick’s peaceful eyes say more than many of us can convey in a lifetime of words.

In a freezing rain, Larry took Slick on his last walk this morning before the final trip to the veterinarian. I’m glad I got to pat him. We will miss Slick greatly and wish him a place where the stoves are warm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Ice flowers' are back with a vengeance

In January of this year I wrote about the "ice flowers" or "frost flowers" that pop up in Deerfield after the first extra-hard freeze. This latest numbing freeze has brought them out again.

The "flowers" occur when the cold causes the sap in small woody plants to ooze out of the stem. The sap then freezes and expands. There's a good explanation of the phenomenon in Wikipedia. Some spots around here look like a box of Kleenex has exploded.

There's much to be said for these flowers. They don't have to be fertilized or tended to, and then they go away on the first warm day.