Freeze…thaw.

Yesterday was a chilly day in Park City.

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Snowplows and the neighborhood driveway-clearers made it hard to sleep long. The sky stayed gray, falling snow blurring the line between mountains and clouds. This time of year, it’s easy to go a little stir-crazy. The cure? Fresh, crisp mountain air.

Santa deposited a pair of Patagonia snow pants under the tree for little old me, and I had yet to test them out. Cholula has been a little clingy this week, snuggling right on me next to me at night and laying extra close during the day. I knew my sweet companion would welcome any chance to play outside with Mama, especially out of the backyard and onto an unspoiled trail with snowflakes fluttering all around.

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What is it about a dog and snow? It’s like a shot of adrenaline, a boost of puppy energy. I swear Cholula smiles when she’s out and about in fresh powder- and it’s hard for that smile not to be contagious. We hit a trail in our neighborhood called Jailbreak. We’d only explored it once before, early in autumn, and didn’t get very far because Cholula was scared of a rock (true story). Maybe the rock was covered by snow, I thought. So off we went!

Despite regular snowplowing, the roads in our neighborhood are still snowy and slick. The light flakes that have been falling steadily for at least a week added micro-layers to the powdered-sugar snow. I had assumed that other doggie families would have blazed a trail before us, but evidence of previous tracks had long been filled in by the storm. I wished strength to my quads and started the trek, laughing at my bounding antelope of a dog.

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The snow was deep, but light– not heavy and wet. My toes stayed warm and dry in my fuzzy boots, and the snow fell easily away from my new pants.  Shrubs resembled giant marshmallow puffs. Chest-deep drifts didn’t slow down Cholula, who pushed ahead and dove snout-first into pockets along the way. The sun tried hard to poke through the gray, and I tasted fresh snowflakes on my tongue. It felt GOOD to be outdoors, good to be breathing, good to be moving. Good to be alive.

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My cheeks were getting tingly and my nose threatened a sniffle.  Each snowflake kissing my face felt like little electric shocks of cold. And Cholula’s joy was obvious.

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Some unseen force caused Cholula to pause on the trail again, and I spotted the dreaded Evil Rock ahead. Tentatively, she gave herself plenty of space and passed it by. After a while further up the trail, I decided it was time to head home. We turned around, back the way we came, paw prints leading the way.

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After spending time outside on a wintery day, the warm car is a welcome haven. The windows fogged up a bit and I could feel my cheeks thawing, getting more rosy by the second. What were snowflakes 30 seconds ago were now droplets of water on Cholula’s fur, and a glance at my reflection confirmed hat hair. We slid home and miraculously made it up the icy driveway.

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Home again after a mini-adventure, I deposited gloves and hat into the wintertime basket by the door. It was time to light some candles, sip hot tea, and lose myself in a stack of magazines already months old. I stayed in my long underwear and socks for the rest of the day, hearing more snowplows go by. The evening involved creative leftovers for dinner and a snoozy, content dog.

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Ahhh.

Just a chilly winter day in Park City.

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