It’s winter here in update NY and since it started way before the official date of Dec 21st, we are well into our 3rd month – snow covered and temps ranging from single digits to low 30’s if we are really lucky. Not counting wind chill. But I grew up in this area, so I’m used to it and make the best, generally “embracing” winter…getting outside for walks with the dogs nearly every day…taking note of the visual beauty, the quiet, the soft feel of freshly fallen snow, the crunch of cold, cold snow. The dogs seem to love it – no complaints from them!
Yesterday, I joined a friend for training in my “winter” horse barn with Tai and Breeze. While it wasn’t all that cold, my “thermal” layer was inadequate and I left after 2 hrs thoroughly chilled, yearning for a hot cup of anything to warm my bones. And hey…didn’t the weather forecast say SUNNY!! Not where I was. But, I was out and about and decided to stop at a favorite park to go for a walk with the dogs before heading home. I left the training session with mixed feelings. Tai is now 13 months old and this was only his 4th trip to the barn, he’s full of hormones at this age and sometimes his choices are unexpected or at least unwelcome. Fresh horse urine is really big distraction afterall . Even though I KNOW it’s a journey, I left feeling a little frustrated.
We stopped at the park and started our walk, me still trying to shake the negative feelings. All was well with both Tai and Breeze, checking in often giving great response to their recalls. The meatball treats no doubt helped! Tai and I also played tug a few times with my glove (forgot a toy). But still, I just wanted to get the walk over with to get home and get warm.
Then it happened…I saw a flash of blue. With a little orange. What is that? Oh my…an Eastern Bluebird!?!? It landed on a bush just 20 feet or so away. I stopped with mouth agape. I don’t see Eastern Bluebirds that often in the summer, but had never seen one in the dead of winter. Then another bluebird joined this one. We stood still – and this is one of the reasons I call this a magic moment – the dogs stopped too and just waited. They seemed to sense from my stillness that something was up. We waited and yet another bluebird joined the group. Then another. So for a little while, I watched – with some interest from Tai and Breeze – this little group of 4 beautiful blue and orange birds flitting around in the brush. After a bit, we left and continued our walk.
Suddenly, my perspective on winter and dog training had righted itself. I began to see all the positives in winter and felt lucky that because of my dogs I had found myself on that trail at that time; and I could better see the positives in our training session too. Afterall, wasn’t it Tai that executed the short jumping sequence so beautifully and with such enthusiasm? Spring will come and Tai will grow up. Best to enjoy the now while its here and the journey that gets us to those “better” days. A reminder that they aren’t really better, just different. And one day in the heat of a hot humid July day, I’ll look back longingly on this winter day. And when Tai is fully mature, I’ll look back fondly on his puppy adolescence. Enjoy today; more snow expected.
Note…according to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, upstate NY is not part of the Eastern Bluebird winter range. However, their migration patterns vary from winter resident (generally in milder climates) to long migrations from harsher climates to the south. This winter, I’ve seen several flocks of Robins as well. Seems to be an unusual winter on many counts.