I don’t know about you, but the fact that March can hang on to cold, cold temperatures and winds that cut right through you is rather an amazing thing. Such is the March that is upon us now: biting winds that howl across the garden or sneak up on you around the next corner; temperatures that send even brave children inside after 20 minutes; a rawness that makes the cat sit at the door looking perturbed after only a 10 minute exposure to the elements. It was this weather that greeted the dog and me on the Saturday morning Very Brisk dash, not saunter, on the salt marsh yesterday.
We rescued and adopted this dog two years ago and nothing has been the same since then. Many are the tales, deep has grown the affection, and complicated has become the family matrix of duties with his care added into our mix. Yet the dog walking duties continue to also allow a clearance of the mind, and as one hussles over the field and through the wood, much of the trivial disappears, especially at wind chills in the teens.
But the dog is still learning, after his difficult past, that the world, even with other dogs, is an OK place to be. In response to his fear and hair raising when we meet others on the walking path, I’ve adopted the practice of greeting oncoming parties with a cheerful hello or comment about the weather. I’ve convinced myself that this salutation will not just alert other walkers and their dogs to our presence; it will also give my dog the idea that the people are fine, the dogs are fine, we are fine, and that everything is going to BE fine. How I will ever confirm this works, I have no idea. For now, it makes me feel better!
I’ve found, however, that there is a range of greetings one receives back. I’ve been wondering whether yesterday’s actually provides a deeper glimpse into the sociology of tough New England patriots. Although I don’t know from where I pulled my cheery, “Well, it’s not so bad to be walking today, the sun is out!” her reply seemed to be right there. “At least there are no ticks!” she answered with a smile.
You might have to live in a tick infested, mosquito saturated part of the country to appreciate this kind of observation. We ARE pleased at simple pleasures: when no ticks threaten our dogs or selves and/ or when the wind shifts and blows blood thirsty bugs away. But isn’t this greeting also a great example of the glass ‘half full’ philosophy? It is absolutely not spring, but hey, there are no ticks. New Englanders might tend to keep to themselves, and I can now make an hour commute without eye contact, but more operates under the surface here. Folks observe life, and call it as they see it. They tough it out, and expect you to do the same.
I’ll go back to work tomorrow, wondering just how glad I am that cold weather means no ticks. But I will also wonder whether I too can find the positive sides of the situations before me, and then sing them out heartily to the stranger that comes across my path. I’m not quite sure how that might work, but maybe it’s easier if the other person says something first.