The Iceman Cometh

After three days of above-freezing temps, the entire county turned into an ice rink. Events were being cancelled everywhere. Not because of too much snow, or too much cold, but because the warm days and freezing nights literally glazed everything over to a thick, icy shine.

My driveway and back patio were iced over, and I knew things would be bad at the dog park. But it had been a long week, and the sun was shining in the middle of a beautiful blue winter sky, and we just had to get there.

If you live in Wisconsin, you understand that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. And for the most part, that’s very true. The trick is to figure out the clothing.

I walk the dog every night. Well, almost every night. So through trial and error I’ve found that four layers work best. A thin one, close to the body; a regular layer of medium thickness; a layer of fleece; with the final layer being snow and windproof material. Thin gloves under thick mittens, and a really good pair of well-insulated boots.

With icy conditions you need extra traction, and a few years ago I discovered Yaktrax work the best on icy sidewalks. The original pair I had bought actually wore out, so I purchased a new pair. Saturday’s trip to the dog park was to be their maiden voyage and the acid test at the same time.

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At the park I had to don my sunglasses because the sun was blinding, bouncing off all that ice. We used the alternate entrance, because the main one was flooded, and my pup doesn’t like puddles. She wasn’t crazy about the alternate entrance either, but I talked her into it.

For me it wasn’t too bad. The Yaktrax were working perfectly and I felt secure. But many park patrons showed up without a jacket or cap, and woefully inadequate footwear. I’m sure I looked like a yeti to them, but I was happy and comfortable. Besides, I stopped caring what I looked like back in my 40s.

We made it around the main loop of the park without incident, entertained by others trying to navigate the ice encrusted path. Not much of it is level, so it was challenging to say the least.

The second time around we took the path around the perimeter of the park, our favorite. Protected from the wind, it’s peaceful, and I always find it very pretty. My pup and I happily headed down the trail.

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My new footwear loudly crunching as we went along, I pulled out my phone to snap a few photos. This dog park was built on top of the old city dump, or “landfill” as they are referred to now. Still, it’s one of the prettiest places in town. In the winter time it’s much easier to see the river from the trail, and the starkness of the naked trees against the contrast of the snow and deep blue sky is a sight I never grow tired of.

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As we go, the dog stops occasionally to wait for me to catch up, standing on the trail until I come around the corner. Confirming that I’m still vertical and haven’t fallen into a snowbank somewhere, she’ll tear off down the trail out of sight, most likely after some type of rodent. She’s twelve now, but here she acts like a puppy.

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We circle around to the river side of the park, and I continue snapping pictures. I’ve taken shots of this view so many times, but I still find such beauty here. More people should take this trail, I think, as I try to find the spot for the best possible composition. I eventually give up and just point and snap a lot, hoping to catch something good.

The dog is way ahead of me on the trail at this point. I sing her name to her as we walk along, talk to her, ask her what she’s found. We’re all alone beneath the trees creaking in the frigid winter wind, since not many dog owners are crazy enough to come out on a day like today. And that’s just fine with us.

We slowly make our way back to the front of the park and the parking lot. It’s been a lovely winter walk with my best friend, and now we’re going to enjoy another of our favorite traditions… heading over to our local McD’s to share a large order of french fries.

 

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