The storm arrived sometime after midnight. As the pre-dawn light began to grow, Ari rose from her dog nest, gave her tags a good shake, and trotted to the bedroom window. There she remained, sentry-like, cataloguing each flake as it landed on the sill.
Meanwhile, Greg and I feigned sleep—hoping to buy a few more minutes of still warmth before joining the day. The clock radio had clicked on several minutes earlier, and we lay quietly as we listened to the round voice of the announcer making his way through the school closings: A Hug-a-Day-Daycare, Creative Kids, Little Lambs Christian Academy, Messalonski High, Mt. View. With each pronouncement, I pictured little throngs of Dickensonian children tossing top hats into the air and shouting at the thrill of their unexpected vacation. And, as they did, Greg and I were both transported back to our own childhood, as we not-so-secretly pined for a day of sanctioned truancy.
Ari had little patience for this waiting game. Before the radio voice had reached his Ps and Qs, she left her post and leapt upon the bed, bleating a wake-up call. I pretended not to hear. The bleat became a high-pitched, short bark: Get up! When I still didn’t answer, she picked her way across our bed hummocks and stretched long across my torso, tapping my nose with her paw. Get up!! Get up NOW—there’s SNOW out there!
Do huskies and other cold-weather dogs have a genetic connection to snow? They’ve certainly been bred to love the stuff. As soon as we step onto the front porch, Ari reaches the height of frenzied pleasure. She dashes through the powder, sending up plumes of white. She porpoises from deepest drift to deepest drift, pausing only long enough to bury her snout or burrow deep into a mound of crystalline white. When that no longer suffices as an expression of her joy, she springs high into the air, attempting a half-gainer and landing, belly-up, in the biggest pile of snow she can find. There, she wiggles and schooches and insinuates herself into every edge and crevice. This is no snow angel: this is a fallen creature, made drunk on its own hedonism. She shimmies deeper into the pile, snorting and wagging, until only a single foot and thick tawny tail are visible in the snow.
A muted chortle comes out from under the drift: Wahh-wahh-wahh-wahhnn.
Find me, this gurgle of a bark seems to say. It’s a game!
It’s a good day for games. I dig down, pulling back armfuls of snow until I am met by a sugar-coated snout and steely blue eyes. She yips with pleasure. I bend down closer. Grinning, she tosses a husky-sized paw of snow into my face. Ha! Ha ha!
She flattens her ears and smiles, politely averting her eyes. Has she gone too far, so brazenly starting a winter battle? She pats her tail, still mostly submerged. I'm friendly, the tail pulse says. No offense intended.
I laugh, shaking away the melting snow from my eye lashes and nose. This noise is all the confirmation she needs: our relationship, if not our feet, is still on terra firma. She rises, and flicks more snow, grinning widely as it cascades down my jacket and gets caught in my hair. I can’t resist. Before I know it, I’m in an all-out snowball fight with this juvenile dog—and I’m losing. Badly. I haven’t felt this triumphant all year.