December 18, 2020

Dark Days of Winter

by Rubin the Labradoodle

It’s been awhile, I know. I have excuses…Pandemic, moving, lockdown, politics, pandemic politics pandemic politics…but it’s most likely laziness.

But today I feel slightly more motivated.


The dark days are making my old bones feel older. I waited for the sun to come up this morning and it didn’t happen until almost 8 a.m. That’s crazy! Has it always been like this? Everyone tells me it has, but I am still amazed that after all these winters, this winter feels the longest, the darkest, and the most difficult.

So we do our best to rise up, move our aging muscles, get out in the weather (and often the dark) to feel the cold and the wind and, of late, the rain. And each night, when the sun goes down and the darkness descends again, we count the minutes until the light returns.

Thankfully, we’re almost there and with the return of the sun, I hope there is a return of motivation.

Everyone tells me that it’s ok to relax and just feel the winter slowness. But normally, that’s not me. I’ve always been a dog of action — looking for it or following it. Even as I approach my 14th year, I still have a hard time settling down. Yes, I sleep  more deeply and I stay in bed longer, but when it’s time to move, I’m ready.

And beware of my witching hour around 4-6 p.m. Then I’m a pest — barking at nothing, demanding attention, searching for my dinner. Agitated.

Anyway, all this wintering makes me nostalgic. Gretchen tells me it’s a combo of the pandemic ether and the darker days here in Port Townsend. When we lived in Seattle, she says, there was more light from the city — streetlights, car headlights, tall buildings lit up all night long, dense neighborhoods where porch lights kept it from feeling too dark. Here, in a more rural community, there are no streetlights to really speak of, no big tall buildings, and not that much traffic. Certainly not on our street, which sees about 5 cars a week. And while our neighbors have put up holiday lights (we have too…first time in 15 years), the darkness is dominant.

But I am also nostalgic, I think, because I’m getting older. I’m remembering all those days playing fetch in the big field by our city house or walking endless miles when we were dog walking for a living. I remember swimming in the lake and then in the pool when Gretchen worked there. I long for the days when my friends came over, Monty in particular, and we’d play chase and leap around the backyard, me flying off the back porch with a wild look in my eye.

I can’t really do that anymore. I have spurts of energy and playfulness. In fact, just yesterday, when we took a short walk on the beach, I raced across the sand and launched myself over a large piece of driftwood. That made Gretchen smile and sort of made her laugh too because I launched a bit prematurely and while I made it over the driftwood, I cut it close, which made her cringe a bit.

The beach makes me feel young again. It also makes me long for spring when the tides are lower and the feeling of possibility is in the air.

Gretchen feels nostalgic too, I think. She’s not working nearly as much these days what with the pandemic restrictions so she has more time on her hands. The new house is taking up much of that time. In fact, as my paws work the keyboard, installers are here to put up new blinds in the newly painted windows frames. We have to sit in the massage shed while they work due to COVID, but it’s nice to see our new home becoming more ours each day.

But of course, what makes a new home even more of a home, are all the friends who come to visit. That’s not happening much these days and perhaps that’s why the dark days have felt all the more dark. I miss my human friends. I miss the dinners the humans would have and my place under the table monitoring the conversations. I miss my Grandma visiting and look forward to the day she can stay in our guest room and cuddle with me on the couch.

I miss my aunt and uncle, Patti and Paul, and all the relatives. And all my Seattle friends who would show up and laugh with us, share meals with us, and give us all hugs.

I miss hugs. And I know my moms do as well.

On our morning walk, in the blustery wind that is always Port Townsend, Gretchen told me to hold on — soon there will be light again. I know she meant it metaphorically as much as she meant it figuratively. And I know she was saying it to herself as much as she was to me.

And so we are holding on. Trying to find the beauty in the dark days and dreaming of the light that is sure to return.

Be well my friends…we will see you and hug you and wiggle our delight together soon.


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