I am walking with Beau along the path that skirts the river. I am focused on ensuring he does not think it’s a good idea to run out onto the ice that lines the shore.
I don’t notice the woman on her bike until I almost walk into her. (That’s how hard I’m concentrating on keeping Beau to the path, not the ice.)
The woman is admiring the river. The sky. The woods.
She’s also on the walking path but at -14C who cares? There aren’t all that many people out anyway.
She smiles at me. I smile at her.
“What a glorious day!” she exclaims.
And I agree. Clear blue sky soaring into infinity. The temperature a balmy sub-zero but not as sub-zero as yesterday, or earlier in the morning for that matter. (It does worry me that I think -14C is balmy but, when you’re been out in -30C, balmy is anything warmer.)
Beaumont, seeing I am engaged with the woman races over. She greets him almost as enthusiastically as he greets her. She starts to tell me all about a dog she used to own. He kind of looked like Beau, but not really, she says. But he was just as friendly. Her husband misses the dog more than her. Instead of dog-walking, she rides her bike. Every day. Regardless of the weather.
That’s because my husband tells me I can’t just sit around and do nothing, she adds with a laugh.
“Do you think he’s right?” she asks, before racing forward, into more dialogue. “Maybe you can help me,” she says. “My son just moved out and the room he had is now empty. I want to use it for something. It’s such a wonderful space but I don’t want to turn it into a bedroom again, definitely not. My husband says I should make it into a yoga studio but I don’t want a yoga studio at home and I don’t know… I have this dresser in the basement. It’s beautiful old wood with this gorgeous mirror and…” she pauses momentarily for a breath. “Do you think I should move it up there?”
“Do you want to?” I ask, still not sure why a complete stranger is asking me for decorating advice.
“Well, I love it and it seems such a shame to hide it away and I have all these other pieces of art and antiques.” Her eyes snap wide open, her mouth forms a tiny ‘O’. “I could turn the room into my art gallery. A place where I go and sit and admire all my beautiful things. Admiring beautiful things is not doing nothing!”
And she climbs onto her bicycle in preparation of riding off. “Oh thank you! You’ve helped me so much. Now I can go home and get busy planning how I’m going to do this and… oh Thank you!” she repeats before riding off.
Even Beau is bemused enough by the encounter, he’s sitting still. But not for long. He leaps up to remind me to throw the ball.
I throw it, away from the river, and turn back to stare at the rushing water on the far side of the ice-covered shore. And that’s when I see it. A patch of untrammeled snow, the only patch around, just at the edge of the trees leading down to the river’s edge.
I bid Beau, ‘Sit. Stay’ (who am I kidding?) and walk over to the patch of unmarked snow. I turn around, face away from the river and carefully lay my body down.
I stare at the sky for a moment and then start to move my arms and legs away from the sides of my body. In and out, in and out, along the surface of the snow.
Carefully I stand up and turn to admire my work.
A snow angel at the edge of the river.
I smile up at the cerulean sky soaring above me. I laugh out loud.
And wonders of wonders, Beau stayed still the whole time.
We walk away. Me throwing the ball. Him chasing after it.
And behind us, a snow angel lies blissfully in the snow. A sweet reminder that angels are on our path always. Sometimes, they come riding up on a bike, asking for decorating advice on a blue-sky day.
Always, they come bearing gifts of laughter and joy.