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Changes In Altitudes, Changes In Attitudes

On December 7, 2010, in Lifestyle, Nature, by Meghan
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Aspen trees make the giant confetti of Park City.

Transplanting thyself into a new place, seedling-like, yields a swift kick in your attitude’s arse. Like Jimmy Buffett’s song about changing latitudes, only I’m preachin’ about getting high (Not necessarily Mr. Buffett’s kind of high.). In moving to the higher altitude of Park City, Utah a little over a month ago, our little clan is experiencing the attitude shifts that accompany drastic change.

Monday, November 1st

The way they’re scattered on the ground, the leaves look like leftover, big-piece confetti. Red, burnt orange, yellow, and rusty brown, they lay slippery under the morning’s heavy frost, providing little purchase to the planet for a walk-about. I think, we missed the party. I fast learn, though, that the party happens every day. Dried by the sun and lifted on the breeze, the leaves flutter for the afternoon hours as Mother Nature’s party favors. That these leaves remain colored and floaty, I suspect that this our welcoming party.

Tuesday, November 9th

There are more than 200 stairs from Main Street to the house’s front door. The old Border Collie struggles with them and this otherwise hilly landscape. An arthritic shoulder and hip as well as the mind of an aged and, thus, only subtly motivated dog frame her world. I boost her doggie bottom up the stairs when she lags, let her stand for sniffing breaks whenever she acts like they are a good idea.

Watching a dog get old is hard all on its own. I wonder when she stretches through a stiff downward-dog pose, is she comfy, happy? Park City has probably as many dogs as humans and I think they are all almost puppies. They make flying leaps, bound over parked cars, do those Superman-esque stunts that young dogs are so famous for. I wouldn’t trade her for a minute, will love her beyond her last breath, but seeing the young pups doesn’t make this easy.

Junebug naps in the sunspot (photo by Bryon Powell).

Each afternoon, she finds a sunspotted patch of carpet by the door. She fills it right up with a splayed body of black and white fur and lapses into twitchy-pawed dreams. I look for those running paws, wait for them, so that I know she’s about as content as an old girl’s gonna get.

Saturday, November 13th

Snow skiffs flake Park City, just enough snow to slicken the streets and make folks look to the heavens for more. Weather forecasts warn of a winter storm this week, and white stuff falls from the sky almost every day. Dainty flurries, they are, that never seem to land.

The neighbor calls this The Waiting Time, says he drinks a lot while he waits. He also says that, if he gets really drunk, he gets on his knees and prays. “For what?” I inquire. His answer, “I pray for snow.” As an afterthought, he adds, “For women, too.”

Thursday, November 18th

A few weeks ago, when the weather turned to pretty cold, Bryon asked about winter jackets. “A big down jacket, as puffy as possible,” was my advice to him, a man who has visited, but not previously lived in cold of the serious kind. The jacket arrives, and when he unfolds a Denali-ready expedition parka from the box, he shrugs and says, “If you’re gonna go, go big.”

Friday, November 19th

She prances. Right up our steep street she prances. I blink a couple extra times to make certain it is real. Then, as if to make her point with canid clarity, she bounds up the stairs to the house, leaving me in her dust. When I arrive, I find her in a patient sit. She looks up at me with her white, furry tail sailing back and forth across the deck behind her. In case you don’t speak dog, a tail wag like that one is best interpreted as, hey Ma, it’s all good.

Saturday, November 20th

A good morning run with new friends dovetails into a late brunch of waffles in their warm, welcoming home. I think, three weeks of friendship and already the awkwardness is gone. We lean over counters into steaming cups of tea and laugh, making plans for the next time, and the next. On the car ride home, we note that it’s really snowing. The confetti leaves are disappearing under a heavy white blanket. I decide that this stuff, this hardy friendship business, is the real party. Bryon and I agree, “We’re lucky.”

Monday, November 22nd

Snow settles on our Park City roof.

The waiting time ends and winter arrives with a dousing of snow, 20 inches of it. We don snowshoes and shoosh until our hearts climb into our throats. In snow boots, we sink kneecap-deep and toss snowballs until someone gets hit in the face. The Border Collie plows through the fluff, then sticks her nose in it for a good sniff.

When she comes up for air, she begins bucking, bronco-like. It doesn’t last long, as she’s old and we’re at altitude. I turn around to see if Bryon is seeing what I’m seeing, and I catch a fleeting glimpse of he in his huge puffy jacket as I duck a hurtling snowball.

We have arrived, I now know.

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20 Responses to “Changes In Altitudes, Changes In Attitudes”

  1. Stacy says:

    What a lovely post! I can completely relate to the strange melancholy of watching an old girl age. Dog Love is profound! You’ve also reminded me how long it has been since Lisa and I last had the pleasantly uncomfortable experience of settling into a new home.

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks, Stacy, for the nice thoughts!

      I’ve been meaning to ask, are you running anything at the Moab Red Hot races next year?

      • Stacy says:

        It’s a slightly long story, but, nope, Meghan, it doesn’t look like we’ll be in Moab in February. It should be fun though. You guys should definitely plan to visit St George at some point, too. Maybe a couple of weeks before Red Hot for a good weekend on dry trails?

  2. Danni says:

    For some reason this makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Awwww Junebug. Zeke is advancing in age too and it’s hard to watch but he has his puppy moments.

    • Meghan says:

      Yeah, there’s mixed emotions ’round these parts, too. It is hard to watch, but isn’t it neat when the puppy side of them comes out for just a bit? Hugs to Zeke!

  3. Leslie says:

    This post made me smile real big! You are conjuring up and image of new-places-excitement with a side of happy-happy-joy-joy. Yay for you! Keith is currently praying for snow. And women too.

  4. Gretchen says:

    Man, Danni took the words right out of my mouth! (Except replace “Zeke” with “Gus.”) Still, wintertime definitely brings out the puppy in Gus, and he isn’t showing his age too much these days, excepting that he needs far less exercise than he once did.

    Anyway, at the risk of being repetitious, I can’t help but say it: Awwwwww Junebug!

    • Meghan says:

      Gus is such a sweetheart! I got to see him in SAR practice action this summer with Andrew, and he’s still got some of the drive! I’d love to see him bounce around in the snow like the pup he once was.

  5. Keith says:

    We want your snow…Please send us your snow!

    Anyway, at the risk of being repetitious, I can’t help but say it: Awwwwww Junebug!

    (Re-post the pic of her playing in the snow!!)

    Love,

    Keith

  6. Keith says:

    cut and paste is fast …. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks Gretchen!

  7. Paige T. says:

    Love this post, makes me feel like I’m right there as it all happens. I wish we got that much snow!!

    • Meghan says:

      Paige, in Chi-town it all probably blows away, no?

      • Paige T. says:

        Surprisingly, no! It snows, then the temperature rises just enough to melt it a little bit, at which point the temperature then plummets so fast that anything that started to melt is turned into ice immediately. This is when it then snows again. Not a lot but rather a light dusting which covers up the ice and makes for disaster walking down city streets.

        Such is midwestern life ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Meghan says:

          Paige, you know I lived in the Chicago suburbs for a couple of years growing up, and I seriously have no winter memories! Funny. I also went to college in Wisconsin. Up there, I remember lots of wind and some snow. I hope you stay upright on that hidden ice!

          Speaking of the Moab Red Hot races (Stacy and I’s convo here.), I saw your name on the list. Bryon’s running it, too, so we should make some plans to hang out down there in Moab! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Ewa says:

    I wish pets did not age so quickly.
    Looks like you are all settled in. Love that snow.

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