Happy Holidays!

Dear Reader:

I hope that you are having lovely holidays and that they include at least a little time with a good book.



While I got a lot of great reading time in over Christmas day, my favorite thing to do on holidays is take a long walk or run or ski or snowshoe, depending upon the season and conditions, with one or more dogs.  I love how few cars are on the road and how quiet it is.

My neighborhood on Christmas 2011


Last Christmas Gus was about eight months old and we did a couple hours of skiing.  I live next to hundreds of acres of open land with scores of miles of trails (groomed for cross country skiing and ungroomed) and abandoned logging roads.  There is a gorgeous creek in the middle of it and frequently on Christmas day you’ll see families down there with all the kids, perhaps trying out new equipment or just happy to have fun together.  Last year we only saw one of our “dog-friends” – one of many people I know from being out on the trails, she was out in the back country of the trails with her three dogs, skiing hard!

Christmas 2011 Hike with Gus

We’re big time lake effect snow territory up here and typically Christmas time is one long blizzard that continues through January with day after day of many inches and/or feet of big, fat, fluffy lake effect snowflakes (we average about 250 inches a year of snow).  And Gus and I were out on a day last year when it was a major slog with many inches of fresh snow.  But it was fun to get home tired, wet, cold and utterly relaxed in the way that you can only feel after an extended stint of exercise.


Gus on Christmas 2011

I’ve lived up here for 17 years and because our weather is so extreme, every year feels completely different, weather-wise, from the last one.  This is the first year I remember having such mild weather and still only a few inches on the ground by Christmas.  I love to cross country ski, but I believe it is appropriate to limit the ski season to just two or three months (not six) so I’m happy with this.  You could ski, but it is a little dicey and you are risky running into rocks or sticks or just icy bits, so I haven’t yet, but I did snowshoe once while the snow was just a bit too deep to walk comfortably.

Meanwhile, I’ve been quite loving being able to walk where ever we want with the dogs because the snow is not too deep, and not many skiers or snowshoers are out.  Some snowmobilers are out, but not too many and they are sticking to their main trail.  It is deep enough snow to keep the gravel trucks from running back and forth from the quarry on the other side of the trails.  Perfect, really!  I wouldn’t mind having a winter that stayed like this.  We’ve had some blustery days this month, but mostly it has been mild – yesterday was about 32 degrees and today may be even warming (one of the few upsides of climate change).


Looking West, Christmas 2011 Hike

So, Gus and I went out for a lovely, long hike yesterday to a place where I knew we probably wouldn’t see anyone and we could just go and go as long as we wanted.  It was a pretty day, low cloud cover and the sky was going between deep blue clouds and fluffy white, dense ones.  It was super, super quiet.  And we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.  We practiced recalls (with “high value” treats – tiny pieces of baked liver sausage and hotdogs) and Gus has been getting stronger and stronger on his recalls.  And it was nice to get out pretty early.

One of my favorite weekend activities is getting one of my buddies: Hugito, Jill, Jo, Adams, or Mark and their dogs to go out around 9:00 am or so for an hour or so.  I usually can’t get out the door that early by myself (too much reading to do!), but it is so nice to get home late morning, all tired out and cold, and take a hot shower and know you have the rest of the day ahead of you to read and relax having exercised the dogs already.  And yesterday was like that.  Lot of time to read and eat (of course!) some treats, listen to Michael Buble’s Christmas album, and just have a wonderful, quiet day.  Perfect!

What’s your perfect Christmas like?

Happy Reading, Ruby


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