“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…” sang Frank Sinatra in 1950.
Ol’ Blue Eyes’ sentiment was not lost on me last week when it was decided that Waffle hadn’t had a decent walk in several days.
“It’s bucketing down,” I said by way of flimsy excuse. “Frightful, even. I’ll take him for a walk when it fairs up.”
“It gives rain for the rest of the day,” Herself clarified.
“Well, tomorrow then,” I tried. “And anyway, I have other jobs to do in the warmth and comfort of the family home.”
“Fine! Where’s his lead?”
A mere 60 seconds later, Waffle and I were trudging through the frigid January rain, utterly soaked. Whilst he looked fairly happy at the prevailing conditions – running hither and thither, sniffing and peeing and barking at anything that moved – I wasn’t so thrilled.
January, for all its promises of new beginnings and longer days is a grim enough aul month; the weather is usually worse than December although the main downside is that any lingering vestiges of festive comfort are long since rinsed away by the drizzle.
I recall asking a work colleague on one occasion if he was planning on doing Dry January. I remember he looked at me as if regarding a particularly belligerent mule which might recently have suffered a blow to the head. He sneered, “January is when you need it (alcohol) the most.”
On we trudged, Waffle with the explosive glee of a man recently released from Shawshank and me, the picture of permanent defeat.
There’s a hill not too far from our house and it’s a route the Waff and I often taken when out and about. As the older generation might opine, it’s a tight aul climb.
That said, on a day when the rain is trying its level best to wash your face clean off and when the wind appears determined to find the seams on any weather-inappropriate jacket, a tight aul climb is just the ticket for enhancing body warmth.
On we trudged, Waffle now pretending to pee at everything that cast a shadow and me, head down, shoulders hunched, huffing almost against the temerity of the ruinous conditions.
After the climb, which is to say, upon reaching the summit of the hill, we stopped to take our breath – or rather I stopped; Waffle ran on ahead as if in high pursuit of a roasted leg of lamb.
Standing on the hill, I was astonished to see the sun breaking through the steel-grey January clouds. For a while I imagined I could actually feel real warmth in the new-born rays of light as I sucked in the fresh air and enjoyed the feeling of the wind rather than despising it.
Do you know that it takes just over eight minutes for the light from the sun to reach us on this blue revolved orb? It does. At 93million miles away, that’s quite a zap through the Solar System. I’m only surprised it doesn’t take longer.
As I was standing there marvelling at this wondrous light, the rays, gilding the edges of the clouds, I realised I hadn’t seen Waffle in – what? Just over eight minutes?
I glanced around. Nothing. Not a hide nor hair of the bumbling fool.
“He knows the way home,” I reassured myself and so set off once again, down the hill the way we had come.
I wouldn’t have gone 100 yards when I heard the clicking of canine claws behind me. I turned to see the fool himself thundering down the road towards me. At first I couldn’t make out what he was carrying in his maw. That roasted leg of lamb maybe? No such luck.
If you yourself have a dog it may be that your hairy friend brings you gifts from time to time. These favours can be as simple as a shoe unearthed from a closet at the far end of the house or a stick procured from the garden.
Waffle doesn’t do this very often but sometimes, just sometimes, he comes up with a real cracker. In this case, it actually was a cracker.
Bounding down the hill, the Hairy Fool skidded to a halt at my feet. In his mouth was a mangled lump of what I first took to be cardboard. It was mangled and it was cardboard but I then realised after a moment that it was actually a Christmas cracker.
“Where in under God…”
Waffle spat the cracker out at my feet and then backed away and barked as if proposing a game of fetch.
Depicting a snowman on one side and a Robin on the other, the green and gold cracker, though intact, had seen better days. In human terminology you might say it looked badly failed.
I hunkered down and considered tempting the Waff to hold one end of the cracker and then I’d pull the other to see if there’d still be a bang. But then I concluded this trick to be utterly opposite to the act of him bringing a gift in the first place.
“Let’s crack it open and see what the joke is,” I said instead.
Surprisingly, despite the poor shape of the cracker, I struggled to open it up. I didn’t want any bang so I tried to extricate its innards by poking a hole along one side.
Inside – unsurprisingly – was a wilted red crown and a toy: A green frog, the kind which hops when you press down on its bum.
“Here we go, Waff,” I said, taking out the joke and un-scrolling the paper. “What do you get if Santa forgets to wear his undercrackers? St Nickerless!”
As the wind suddenly picked up, Waffle took the questionable punchline as an excuse to once again run off. I smiled.
The joke was better than any
we’d had at home on Christmas
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…” I sang, the wind snatching away the words.
“Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow…”
On we trudged, Waffle with the explosive
glee of a man
recently released from Shawshank and me,
the picture of permanent defeat
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