Thursday, February 18, 2010

More space than you can imagine.

Tonight my boys wanted to take the dog out into the middle of Lake Harriet, which if you've never been to Minneapolis, is essentially right in the middle of the city. My dog, a prancy little collie, goes absolutely crazy out there. It's the wide-open space I guess. She never sees so much space, bumping up against walls, furniture, and people in this too-small house as she does. You get far enough out and she just starts to run. Anywhere. She runs in huge galloping circles. She comes barreling at you and then swerves at the last minute. She wheels around and jumps, putting her paws up on my chest, then drops low, snorting as the icy snow goes up her nose.

Initially, trotting along on our way to the middle she managed to walk keeping her paws (they're dainty) almost directly inside one of the two, narrow, day-old tracks of some kid's sled, which I insisted we follow to ease my paranoia about untested ice.

My nine-year-old kept ahead (he has this distinct walk even from a distance, trying to keep his head straight so his hood won't fall off; he won't wear a hat, or gloves most of the time) while my kindergartener stayed with me, explaining we were Ninjas on our way to a spying mission inside C.O.B.R.A. headquarters.

We started around 6:00, already towards the end of twilight. When we got to the middle of the lake the boys were off talking and the dog sniffing around the upturned crust of the snow layer and I stood and breathed and looked around; the moon --- in its... quarter phase? I don't know --- was mostly the color of a dusky pearl, you could just make it out, and the un-obscured part seared with cold blue light as if it were bursting free from the shadows. The fingernail of some blind god up in the sky. What I liked was the light it cast on the crests of snow. The sunlight of the coolest day. Morning in Antarctica. Quiet, but sort of a pregnant silence. Something or nothing could happen and either thing would be portentous.

I made the kids stop and listen.

On the way back there was a lot of screaming and wailing; the littler fellow said his leg was broken from walking and I had to put him on my shoulders; but I didn't care because stars had come out and I haven't seen stars in a long time.

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