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Adventures with Muffy and Ice (1996)

From Jan. 1996, when I lived in Philadelphia (related stories: Breakin’ the Law; Poodles BiteAnna Belle (da poodle) ‘n Me; also Ben-Gay and Things not to say to a first-time mom):

Tonight, Wednesday night, around 1 1 : 30 p.m., I took Muffy [our Cocker Spaniel] out the basement door to walk her before going to bed. It was very dark out, as you can imagine, and was very quiet, and there was white all around, since the yards have been covered with snow since the last snowfall a couple weeks ago, which hasn’t yet melted. Well, I’m down there waiting inside the door (since it’s cold out), and Muff’s not back yet. So I peer outside and see her sort of straining and clambering on the snow just a few inches from the patio, but on the sloping incline of the yard, as it starts its pretty steep slope way down to the fence at the treeline about a 100 feet down. She was slipping on the surface of the (hardened) snow, and was trying not to slide downhill, and couldn’t make progress uphill even over the little flower bed (itself also covered with icy snow) to the patio. The Muff was stranded.

I was in my flannel pajamas–new green-blue plaid ones Skid and Smidge got me this Xmas–and only my socks, so I couldn’t go out to get her and help her in. So I called to her, and she tried a couple times to climb up but failed, and finally gave up, just standing there. So I went upstairs and put on these snow boots I tramp around in when I need to run outside, and went back down to the basement to get her. And as I got to her, my feet started to slide. It seems like my entire back yard has turned, this afternoon and evening (perhaps with a light freezing drizzle) into a solid sheet of ice. Not snow, but ice. So here I am, 11:30 pm, with a bad cold or perhaps bronchitis, freezing outside, dark, in Yankeeland, in my fucking flannel pajamas, and I land on my ass and start sliding down my back yard. I am rolling and twisting, trying to upright myself, but every time I do this I try to use my hands, which are subjected to very rough treatment by that hard ice zipping by. I knock down a small treelet sticking up out the snow. The ice surface is sort of rough, like very rocky sandpaper, and I could feel it through my PJ’S on my butt and back. I finally give up and sort of ball up and slid all the damned way down the yard like a turtle on its back till I almost hit that fence at the bottom, at least 100 feet from the top.

So I get up and think to myself, “look at this shit.” Muffy ‘s standing up there on the ice still, by the patio, probably looking down at me, thinking “and you’re gonna rescue me?” I consider yelling for Cin–’cause I, too, am stranded now–but it won’t work, it won’t help, and plus my chest hurts too much to yell. Plus I might attract the neighbors: “Evenin’, Mistah Spitzah! Might ye be so kind as to fetch that boy with the wench and fo’ wheel drahv and haul me up outta mah back yahd? ” “Eric, darling, it’s that poor Southern boy confounded by our Northern snow again.” No way!

So I considered walking way ’round the perimeter of the low area at which I was in till I got to some perhaps travelable area. Or, yes, maybe, I could sneak over there to that corner with the woods, and follow the woods up, and maybe dash across the short relatively level part of the yard up by my air conditioner unit, and then grab Muffy and hop onto the patio.

But I wasn’t ready to admit yet that I couldn’t just walk up that damned hill. The ice had cracked a little under me where I stood, leaving a rough footprint. So, I stomped my left heel real hard, made an indention, and advanced a step; and repeated this with the right, left, so forth for a few steps. I got about half way up the hill, the ice getting harder to break with each step, more like stomping on plywood. Finally the ice got hard enough or my stomping legs got tired enough, and I stomped but made no indention–just my flat boot on slippery ice, and again! I slid down that fucking yard. Arms flailing wildly–say , that’s a pretty, dark sky above, look at all the stars–cold Yankee wind in my ears, hands flayed by the icy bumps and pits rushing by. The palms of my hands and tips of my fingers are almost bleeding now, and I can barely feel these keyboard keys as I type this.

So then I tried my alternate route–up by the woods, by the a/c, and that finally worked. I grabbed the Muff–still waiting patiently for rescue–almost slipped but jumped to the patio, and after furtively looking around to make sure no neighbors had spied me, I dashed inside. Muffy can wait till the morning to crap.

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