Halting the Melt

It seemed like it would never come. After months of burial in frozen white, everyone was aching for warmth and color beyond gray and the smell of mud after rain. My favorite season used to be fall. But now, as I sip tea in the morning with sunbeams in my eyes, I don’t want to put sunglasses on. I want to be blinded by breaking ground and bright rays.

As I leaned back and let the heat warm my cheeks, I noticed my dog in the yard. Her name is Della. She is huge and fluffy and almost white, with a sloppy tongue and an incredibly possessive attitude. Her favorite thing to do is steal logs (yes, logs) from the woodpile in our yard and carry them around, tossing them to the sky and catching them in her giant, drooling mouth. She then has to sit with them, for hours and days if necessary, to make sure no one steals them. They are her logs and her logs alone. Our woodpile is scattered, to say the least.

Being so big and fluffy, she is also a dog who overheats easily. Basically, the winter is her playtime. She loves to eat snow and roll in snow and lay in snow, still enamored of it at the end of this grueling season New England endured.

But spring is here. The corner of frost and frozen has been rounded, and now the birds are singing and I am wearing flats instead of boots. Scarves are lighter and brighter and pea coats are a thing I never want to see again. This morning, as I put honey in my tea and thanked God for the thaw, I watched Della stand by the last few feet of snow we have in the yard, under the pool deck in a place of coveted shade. She had stood there all weekend, each day her precious pile getting a little smaller. I wish that I could explain to her the concept of melting, but my poor giant baby is holding on to the snow. She cannot leave its disappearing side, guarding her favorite thing in the world.

When there was enough of it to lay in, she was covering the entire spot with her body (oh Della, you are only making it worse). As it has grown smaller, she now just picks pieces up and carries them around. But above all, she never leaves the snow. It has been days now, and she is still a faithful winter guardian. I am actually sad to think that by the end of the day today, the last bit of her happiness will melt away in a parade of sixties and sunbeams. And the rest of us are rejoicing.

I admire dogs for a lot of things. But never have I seen such innocence and determination all in one go, a futile crusade to save the snow. And then I thought, isn’t innocence what spring is all about? Flowers don’t know what will meet them beyond the crust of dirt. Yet they are determined to sprout anyways.

Della doesn’t know if she will save her snow. But she is trying the only way she knows how, despite a complete lack of understanding.

I looked at her and thought, Dammit, Della.

Leave it to a dog to remind me that life calls for determination, even if we don’t understand the ending. She sure has a lot of faith in herself.

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