Like the ground hog who pokes his head out at the beginning of February to see when spring is coming, I opened my front door to determine the safety and enjoyment of walking in my neighborhood. Some people, like my snow angel, Ron, had cleared their front sidewalks. Some had left the snow there to harden into impassable slabs of ice. When Dan took us for a walk around the neighborhood on Thursday, it was a test of Dora’s memory of what to do about these dangerous mini ice rinks. Having a “4-wheel drive,” they were no problem for her, so she just kept on charging ahead in her excited state, while I slid around, trying not to do the splits or land on a body part. Dan was right behind me with a hand extended to catch me, which I needed once or twice.
Clearly, Dora needed a refresher in ice mobility. Back in 2014, when she was a brand new certified Seeing Eye dog, she was very impressive with her ability to spot ice ahead and would slow down for me. But over the years of having not so much snow, she’s become a little rusty in that skill. So we practiced, and yesterday, we ventured out on our own.
Most of the sidewalks were clear of snow, since we had had a couple of days of warmer temps, but now and then, Dora had to remember how to negotiate the places where the home owners had neglected their front walks, and over this brutally cold month, the ice had remained, especially in the shady spots, not that we ever had that much sun.
She did very well, having paid attention to her refresher, but twice, it might have been comical to watch me in action.
Snowplows typically dump their loads on the edges of the crosswalks as they make their turns. When we try to cross a street, Dora tries to search for a path through the mountains of snow. After a few seconds of her frustration, I just drop the harness and step over the mound and encourage her to follow by leaping over it. Yesterday, when I attempted this feat, I discovered that the mound was wider than I expected and almost did the splits. But it’s a good thing I’m fairly agile. A few blocks later, as we turned a corner, Dora took me into the grass instead of keeping me on the sidewalk. After I questioned her for not staying on the sidewalk, I found out that the sidewalk was completely impassable. A line of overgrown bushes has prevented any sun from melting that ice for several yards, so I just grabbed the bushes as I walked along until the bushes came to an end.
Today, we had a different kind of adventure. After a “melt-down,” the sidewalks were clear of snow, but the low places were filled with deep puddles. With water over my ankles, I was glad it was relatively warm and that my shoes were washable. Always an adventure. Stay tuned for the next one.
The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir
Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life
Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland