Sunday, February 5, 2012
Walking In A Winter Wonderland
Erin's introduction to snow came upon exiting Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. Arriving in the heart of winter she was met by a deluge of white flakes but there was no hesitation or displeasure only joy at being released from her crate after an exhausting day of travel. Living in Savannah Georgia certainly limited her chances of seeing any snowfall but spending two years abroad made up for that shortfall and more. Despite Erin's lack of experience in a winter wonderland she felt at home and was quite confident in whatever conditions Mother Nature conjured up. She frolicked her way across 12 snowy European countries, explored nature, gazed upon breathtaking scenery and made friends wherever she went.
High in the Swiss Alps Erin romped around in blinding snow where cows with clanging bells around their necks greeted her with a chorus of moos. Riding cable cars from village to village she sat beside me and peered out at the frozen world below while skiers befriended the nomadic dog. On an icy observation deck a large group of Japanese tourists were completely smitten with Erin; they overwhelmed her with attention and repeated requests for photos thus a hasty retreat to a restaurant was necessary to escape the madness. German dormant vineyards made the perfect doggie playground, she ran freely and without restrictions across the endless white slopes while I hid behind vines for impromptu games of hide and seek. Living in Kosovo snow crunched under her weight as the grounds of a school were investigated, soccer playing lads begged her to play but she was more interested in livestock brought to the field for grazing. One day a high school aged kid hurled a snowball at Erin whom was minding her own business; luckily for him he missed but that didn't prevent me from shaking my leash in his direction while cussing him out until he dropped another snowball in his hand and ran off with his buddies. I was prepared to wrap the leather leash around his neck and bury his face in the snow until he stopped breathing but thankfully the situation didn't go that far :)
An elderly gatekeeper at the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe surprisingly permitted Erin to enter where she trod on sacred ground. Tombstones dating back a thousand years were layered in the thickest snow we arguably ever saw; off-leash she led the way while I followed closely to ensure she avoid trouble. Through knee high drifts I clambered to keep up with Erin whom cut the snow like a knife through butter...On days like those I yearned for a pair of snow shoes. The gatekeeper huddled in his shack was given a friendly wave before we strolled down the isolated streets. Against a backdrop of white the Christmas Market in Vienna was visited where we feasted on a variety of Austrian goodies...stalls hawking meats, cheeses, pastries, etc were much too tempting to pass. As always Erin sat near my feet never diverting her eyes off me as she waited on her share to be tossed downward. She received her portion and more as this would be our last evening together in Europe; the following morning she was placed in her crate for the return flight home to friends and family
One of our neighborhood hangouts, Luisenpark in Mannheim provided a vast open area where dogs could run to their hearts content, fetch balls and gnaw on sticks while avoiding children racing down hills on sleds. Rolling onto her back Erin squirmed with pleasure before vaulting upright to shake out the snow embedded in her fur...She made one beautiful snow angel much to the encouraging yelps of her canine friends. Exhilarating games of chase took place with billowing clouds of snow thrown upwards for the trailing dogs to inhale; it's good to be the lead dog. Wrestling matches brought a smile to my face as Erin and her competitor thrashed about in the snow without a care in the world; they nipped and used their weight to toss each other down. Hares living in thickets near our apartment proved to be too much of a temptation for Erin who gave pursuit even in the harshest of conditions; spotting one she gave chase until the prey eluded her. If given the opportunity she would have gladly spent all day in that overgrown plot of land; she always returned dog tired, fur damp, and spewing steam from her gaping mouth like a locomotive but oh so happy. The winter months spent overseas with Erin were amazingly happy times and visions of her smiling will forever be etched upon my mind....Given the chance I'd spent an eternity doing it all again with my best friend!!!