It isn’t very often that I can look out the kitchen window over our backyard and see a long wide winter lawn of unmarked snow varnished with a layer of ice.
Grandchildren who generally get together and use our snow to create great sculptures in our backyard have been snowbound in their own homes.
The wild cats who use our front porch as their personal spa and dining area weren’t heavy enough to leave paw prints after the blizzards when they went out back and over the hill to their homes.
When I look out the window over that unmarked white expanse I remember kids—ours and all the neighbors—building snow forts and battling with snowballs and ice balls, until they were stopped.
I remember our dogs, mostly Black Labradors, catching snow balls and running with them, only to be mystified by the snowballs disappearance as they held it in their mouths.
But most of all, that snow and ice-covered yard reminds me of Sadie.
Sadie was a nine-month-old Black Labrador who was very friendly. She arrived about ten o’clock one night with her master. She would only stay a few weeks, and she was house-broken. When we were away she would stay in the basement like our own dogs use to.
Reluctantly I agreed, forgetting that our own dogs never stayed in the basement.
Sadie’s master left for work at eleven. She didn’t seem to mind. She curled down on the carpet at my feet and went to sleep.
Around midnight I got ready for bed. Sadie seemed perfectly content and ready to go upstairs with me. But then I remembered, “always let the dog out before you go to bed.’
It was after midnight, everything was quiet outside. I could just put my coat on over my robe and nightgown. My house slippers were made for warmth and had plastic soles, so no need for boots even if our backyard was unmarked layers of ice over snow. My hair was in curlers held in place with a hair net, so no need for a hat or scarf.
I got Sadie’s leash to take her for an educational stroll around the boundaries of her new yard while she did everything but somersaults in glee.
It was lovely out there, all clean and white. We started to walk sedately along the fence row.
Sadie was a perfect lady. She even knew how to heel. Until the neighbor’s cat broke from the fence row and streaked down the yard.
Sadie gave chase. Her leash was wrapped around my wrist so I couldn’t let go, and the plastic soles on my slippers became instant skis.
What a picture! The cat hightailing it away from the black dog who was dragging this upright old lady in her parka covered winter sleeping gear over the moonlit, ice-covered snow, as I yelled every variation of “no” and “stop” I could think of.
Fortunately, the cat went through the back fence, and the dog stopped soon enough to keep me from toppling over the fence and down the back hill.
We returned to the house. Sadie was still grinning happily. I wasn’t.
By the next day I was able to laugh again, just as I do now when I see the long winter back lawn, covered with unmarked snow, varnished with layers of ice and I remember Sadie.
This column was first published in the Greenville Daily Advocate on Jan. 22, 1999.