Days of spring

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­ Twit­ter: @Wanger­sky.

Easter Sun­day, and above Con­cep­tion Bay North, the ice is on ev­ery­thing.

The trees glis­ten in the wind­less morn­ing, ev­ery branch caught inside a tube of bright ice, tubes you can slide off some branches and blow through, like melt­ing straws.

It was still enough that I could hear crows croak­ing on tree­tops far enough away for the birds them­selves to be out of sight with­out binoc­u­lars. The day be­fore, with the wind still high, four or five of the birds had been ghosting over the big spruces, fly­ing straight up into the wind and then throw­ing their wings out to fall into a full stall, then grab­bing the very tops of the trees for pur­chase.

The snow was cov­ered so thickly with ice that, for long stretches, I was mag­i­cally track- less. Walk through sun­lit and warm­ing ice and then into shade, and your boots freeze to the sur­face for the next few steps, the shad­ows still that cold, de­spite the morn­ing sun. The birds know it’s spring, even if the weather doesn’t: there are robins call­ing, and pitch-per­fect chick­adees, di­rec­tion-shift­ing flocks of siskins break­ing like waves into the leaf­less birches.

Feet oc­ca­sion­ally over­loud on break­ing ice, and the trees are shed­ding their brit­tle and mu­si­cal ice sleeves, and I’m alone on the trail ex­cept for the cor­duroy frozen tracks of an ATV, stamped in quickly when the snow was slushy and wet and then frozen.

And then, around the cor­ner, a big man with a small beige dog on a leash, a sight that just doesn’t be­long in this im­age staged per­fectly enough to be the pic­ture on a puz­zle, 1,000 tightly in­ter­lock­ing pieces mark­ing the ex­act de­pic­tion of sto­ry­book win­ter.

Bul­bous eyes and a small muz­zle, and this tiny dog - I mean, scarcely the size and weight of a large rabbit, even a healthy cat would be box­ing at least two weight classes higher - is wear­ing a sky-blue dog jacket that pro­claims “#1 Stud.”

Some­times, it’s as if your brain can’t even com­pre­hend what you’re see­ing, as if the pieces are all there, but the con­text makes no sense what­so­ever.

So I bend down to greet this out-of-place lit­tle hound, and it bares its teeth and growls a lit­tle.

Leave aside that I out­weigh him a hun­dred-fold at least. I’m car­ry­ing my woods saw, a wicked old two-and-a-half foot bow buck­saw that I’ve had and used for so long, al­ways righthanded, that the arc of the saw has turned gen­tly in­wards to­wards the cut.

It’s on its fifth re­place­ment blade or so, a man­gle of shin­ing sharp steel teeth, an even zip­per of un­for­giv­ing car­bide points. The frame may bow two ways, but the saw cuts just fine. I’m in steel-toed boots, wear­ing a stock­ing cap that came out of a case of Alexan­der Keith’s beer a decade or so ago.

And this dog, this tiny lit­tle nerves-aquiver shiv­er­ing wants to start a fight. I straighten up. We go our sep­a­rate ways af­ter that, but as soon as the #1 Stud is out of boot range, he ut­ters a tri­umphant half-snort, bit­ten­back bark, as if to em­pha­size how tough he is.

And this postage-stamp-sized dog, I re­al­ize, is like me. Is like so many peo­ple I’ve in­ter­viewed over the years.

Be­liev­ing our own hype. That’s what gets us all in trou­ble. Ev­ery time. And the still-fall­ing ice? In the back­ground, the fall­ing ice sounds a lit­tle like dis­creet laugh­ter.


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