I didn’t really expect yesterday’s walk to present the same hazards faced on the open marsh two days ago. The mere gusts of wind at our house were transformed into blizzard conditions, and the melting and refreezing on the path has now made walking almost impossible. Despite the bright sun, the cold air reigns, and one fellow dog walker gave me the word which summed it all up New England style: “Treacherous.” (So much for small talk, but at least he warned me.) And as his big, burly poodle bounded upon my mildly interested but mostly timid lab, my simple, silent plea was “Dogs, work it out.”
That’s simply what the dogs were going to have to do. No dog could be walked or clipped on the spot to a leash with the non-existent footing. This adventure was a crawl of a thousand tiny steps; I moved forward grasping one tree trunk after another, constantly looking down and guessing: would I slip here? Would the snow hold or fold? Could I really be as old as I must appear, shuffling 45 minutes on a route that usually takes us 10? Have I met my Everest?
On the way home I thought about that command phrase, “work it out.” We tell it to our children who don’t want to share, or when they disagree about what to do next (or to whom to do it). We hear it in school when we tackle math or science problems. We hear a variation in Apollo 13: “…Work the problem, people.” I’ll bet most of us have grumbled at least once about elected officials who can’t seem to ‘work it out’ when the rest of us have to figure out a way to do it.
Back at the meeting of the treacherous paths, the dogs had their moment, worked it out, and happily departed to get on with their days. On this cold, mid-February, don’t-tell-me-it-is-going-to-snow-again-on-the-weekend day, I want to give a shout out to the many people who get up each day and go about the business of working it out, whatever IT is and wherever THEY are. I hope their spirit, whether it is ‘can-do’ or ‘have-to’ is contagious; we need it from the smallest step to the biggest leap on the paths that lie ahead.