Snow Angel

by Tom Swift

In the clearing kids skate across a frozen creek bordered by leafless trees and beneath a blunted but unmistakable sun.

There will never not be romance for you around such sound: of blades cutting outdoor ice. Of pucks hitting sticks. Of the singular melding of heat and chill, of laughter and intensity, that arouses from pond hockey. Just then a trio of girls breaks from the group and glides closer, to a dock on which they have left thermoses and such. They kibitz and sip as the boys continue to play and paint this animate art you frame in your mind.

At the end of the leash you hold in your hand your dog explores seemly every inch of this winter wonderland. He has brought you here. You are here because at the end of the afternoon meeting you were reminded how short is this life and he was stirring and it was warm enough and you needed go run to the library anyway. Still, after all these years, he gets excited — the same as ever — when you ask him if he wants to go for a ride.

Oh yes, is the answer — the way he bounces against the door. Let’s go. Now.

What is different today was the way, after the two of you made your winding way through the park that he tugged the leash and told you in his way of speaking that he wanted to run. And so you did, the two of you, no matter the crowds and walkers milling about, across the park. And when you got to the hill you thought you might have to pick him up but, nah-huh, he decided to run again. He doesn’t usually run up hills but he sprinted up them today. You thought he was ready to return to the car but you were wrong there, too. He took you down this path you are now on, one you had not before traveled this far, to the edge of this creek. You had let him go a few minutes before and he had dashed through the snow, then came back to you, then ran away again, his grunts at each stop and start, snow spraying, being his way of saying, “look, no hands.”

If skating is the time machine, his running is the time-stopper. You cannot be anywhere else but righthere when he breaks the cold air, bends his ears to the world, and runs and reminds you that you will love him forever.