Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Kind of Fool Am I?

What Kind of Fool Am I?
In 1963, a British pop singer named Anthony Newley asked that question, and this morning I asked it of myself. I decided last night that Abigail deserved a nice, long walk today. It had been awhile, and neither of us are getting the exercise we need. Because we had nearly a foot of heavy, wet snow this past Thursday, I thought I would go to an old childhood park/hangout, Foster Park. It has had a great deal of upgrading in the last forty years, and I figured a paved walkway might be a bit dryer than our other walking spots. Plus it was an easy 3 miles from one end to the other and back because it is such a pretty, scenic walk.

My first foolish decision was not to bring my good camera. The water has been running off the roof of our building for two days as if there is a major rain storm going on outside. But this snow was so sticky, and there was so much of it, that there was plenty of snow left all over the park. I knew that my cell phone camera wouldn't quite cut it when I saw a young girl doing cartwheels in the snow. I also knew that there has been a great glut of snow pictures taken in my neighborhood when I saw two more moms posing their children and taking pictures. But, to me, this is the perfect kind of snow-clinging to everything, and making Texas look like a Currier and Ives post card.

My second bad decision was not to wear my waterproof hiking boots. I figured the paved path would be dry since the temperatures were above freezing most of yesterday. HA!!! First of all, the park is hilly and the trail has lots of low points. Second, there is a creek that feeds into the Trinity River. The sound of the creek with all the melting snow causing it to rush was like the sound of Niagara Falls-at least on the nature programs I've watched that take place there. I don't personally know what Niagara sounds like, but the water was loud, and running deep across the path at those low points. The rest of the path was covered with mud.

I've been trying to work with Abigail not to jump on strangers, so when we saw other people coming I stepped off the trail with a treat in my hand to get her to sit until they passed, unless they wanted to say hi. Only one did, but telling her to sit on snow is a tough task. She doesn't mind sitting on carpet or grass, but on snow and mud-it takes convincing. It was even harder because at several spots along the way,some large limbs had been knocked down by the weight of the snow, and blocked the entire trail. So we had to step further off, into more watery mud.

But we walked on, and shortly after we got moving we crossed the first rushing section of the creek, and my walking shoes were soaked, as were my pants, halfway up my shin. The water was cold. Very cold. But we kept on. There were apparently thousands of collected smells that were not buried by snow or washed away by the melt off. There were also lots of birds on branches hanging low from the snow weight and brave squirrels looking for some acorns in the mud. Abigail loved that-the terrier psyche cannot be stopped! If there are rodents, she wants to chase and hunt them. She was having a ball! She isn't normally a dog that enjoys water, but there was one section of creek that contained a drain pipe clogged with leaves and debris. The debris created a bit of a gurgling whirlpool, which fascinated her. She got very close to the whirlpool, and I saw her nearly lose her footing in the rush of the creek water. She is, after all, only seventeen pounds, and that water was really moving. Needless to say, my squishy shoes and socks concerned Abigail not one whit. The sun was out, she got treats every time people walked by, there were squirrels and birds all over the place; she was having a ball.

We stopped about three yards short of Ranch View because of the largest branch we'd encountered up to then, and headed back to the beginning. For some reason, walking south on the trail, through those watery low spots on the trail, I could feel the water, which was higher now, pushing hard against me, so I understood how it really felt like a shove to Abigail. At one point we came on a chocolate lab whose mom didn't allow him to greet Abigail, so over the river we went again. Near the end of the trail there is a pipe going across the creek, and not far from the pipe is a bridge that has high sides. There were two teenage boys pretending to tightrope walk across the high sides of the bridge. I teased them that there was a narrower pipe ahead if they really wanted to improve their rope walking skills. They said they were just avoiding the watery snow. It seems they had not worn their waterproof hiking boots either.

When we got home, we were both happy and wet. It was a sunny day, with a little breeze-just gorgeous. I would love to take our three mile walks on days like this all the time...with a little less water! I'm not sure what Anthony Newley's final answer was, but what kind of fool am I? The kind of fool who can come home from a walk with soaking, squishy walking shoes and a smelly, wet dog, feeling as if it is the best walk I've had in quite a long time. That's what kind of dog-walking, snow loving fool I am.