I really am the most fortunate dog in alive in Kamloops today. I know that perceptions, especially self-perceptions, can be dangerous; they can lead to arrogance, misunderstanding and emotional injury. If the difference between one’s own self-assessment and the estimations of others is too great, conversation is difficult; allegiances, even friendships can suffer. All this understood, I do think I have the best deal of any dog on my block, on my side of the Thompson River and even throughout the entire city. My keepers take me for at least two wonderful walks each and every single day. No exceptions!
Whether the weather (sic) is wildfire-smoky or heat-dome-hot, whether the temperature with wind chill drops below -30°C or the wind blows rain in one’s face or the paths extremely slippery, they take me, without fail, every single day. Some walks are simply to a local dog park where I do most of the running and they provide a human post around which to circle, or whether Cameron drives me to the top of Kenna-Cartwright Park for a two-hour forced march (which I do enjoy), I get more than my fair share of exercise, scenic opportunities, and all things being well and equal, wonderful playtime with four-pawed friends.
Kamloops weather has recently been much, much colder than normal. This year there’s none of this flitting around +/- 1°C. We have had several days of -30°C and colder when the wind chill is factored. I read an odd article the other day about wind chill. You see, it’s really not that hard to understand. While the temperature might be measured as -20°C if there is wind, well go outside and test for yourself. It’s colder–pure and simple. No special calculations necessary.
Fortunately, my eyes are protected by bushy brows; my face and snout are amply buffered and protected. The only adaptation required prior to departure is that I let Kathie put my boots on. Boots you must know are a rather indignant canine accessory; they’re not that comfortable and must be tightened firmly and often. They make walking a challenge. Remember those pictures of football line blockers prancing along rows of rubber tires. That’s what running in dog boots is like. Not fun, though I am getting used to them. They keep my paws safe from penetrating ice and snow buildup which really hurts; my paws become irritated and sore. Doggie boots (as Martha Stewart would say) are a good thing.
Another feature of these daily constitutionals is the scenery. While my nose is most often directed at the ground I do miss a lot of the vistas. Tracing relations, determining who might be ahead on the path, dealing with calls to nature, all these are essential to my personal canine wellness. Those with me however enjoy wonderful views of the Thompson Rivers at the confluence. The North Thompson in particular is bordered by majestic mountains which shimmer in the sunlit ice and snow. You can hear and watch the ice bunch up on the almost totally frozen river—watch your step people, please. Imagine historic First Nations gathering for trade and community proximate to what is now downtown Kamloops. Imagine European explorers such as David Thompson and Simon Fraser entering our valley only to discover human inhabitants amidst fast running waters, robust forests, animal and bird life of all sorts, salmon and trout, lush fields and meadows. It must have been a breath-taking experience.
People still ask Ken and Kathie (now retired) why they still live here and don’t return to Vancouver Island. The truth be told, I could live anywhere, but another truth is that it is majestic here, through all four seasons. Ken always stops on our morning walk simply to admire the splendid valley-scape; on the afternoons he admires the mighty North Thompson River, equally beautiful on a hot summer’s day or a frigid morning. Regardless of what the future holds, wherever we end up living these next few years together, I remain grateful for their care and the adventure they provide for me. They bring me joy (which I return to them in equal measure I might add) a special joy, well captured in poetry like the following from the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz:
I sometimes forget that I was created for Joy. My mind is too busy. My Heart is too heavy for me to remember that I have been called to dance the Sacred dance of life. I was created to smile To Love To be lifted up And to lift others up. O’ Sacred One Untangle my feet from all that ensnares. Free my soul. That we might Dance and that our dancing might be contagious.