Savoring Gray

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

I like these cold, gray winter days.  Days like these let you savor a bad mood.
–  Bill Watterson in Calvin and Hobbes

After four days of very cold crisp sunny days, it is raining tonight and predicted to rain for the next week.  We are back to gray and miserable, right where we were for most of December.

What a relief.

There has been too much perfection for too long:  four days of 360 degree views of snowy mountains and foothills that gleam in the sun, glistening crystalline fields of frost, sparkling clear waters in Puget Sound,  and bright blue cloudless skies is hard for any northwest native to tolerate.    It is hard work keeping up the smiles and general good humor that goes with excellent weather.   There is always a clear expectation that one must be outside enjoying the rare sunny day, when it is far more appealing to curl up with a good book and a warm dog by a roaring fire, pretending not to notice how nice it is out.

We native Washingtonians are congenitally grumpy people, born to splash through puddles and lose our boots in footwear-sucking mud.    We don’t carry umbrellas because they are useless when our horizontal rain comes from the side, not from the top.   We wear sunglasses on mid-winter sunny days because we can’t possibly get our eyes to adjust to so much brightness.   We wear hoods, sometimes even when we are indoors, just in case,  because you never know.

Gray is preferred.   Gray with wet and cold is even better.   No one even questions a bad mood on days like this.   A good mood would be highly suspect.

So I savor the opportunity to be disgruntled with such obvious justification as a rainy evening.

Downright crabby.  No apologies needed.  No excuses given.
It’s almost enough to put a smile on my face.

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

Haflinger-eating Snowman


I’ve discovered that our Haflingers have a built in instinct to flee from 9 foot tall snowmen, so there must be Haflinger-eating abominable snowmen or “yeti” in the Alps that snack on unsuspecting golden ponies for lunch.  Haflingers are hard-wired to run the other way when they spy one.

My children cagily built a huge snowman right alongside the path between the horse barn and the paddocks, only two feet from where our Haflingers must pass when being led out for the day. It happens to be the most downhill part of the slope between house and barn, so rolling huge balls was made a lot easier. This was a particularly creative snowman ala “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon fame for those of you who used to enjoy the various snowmen that Calvin would make with his tiger Hobbes–we’re talking full character costuming with facial expression, personality and a story to tell (in this case, a snowman holding his own decapitated head).

But creativity aside,  it was clearly abominable to the Haflingers. The minute their nose was out the door of the barn they stopped and looked at the new headless monster who had invaded their safe barnyard, but after all, breakfast was waiting, so with little urging continued on with me as I was between them and the suspicious intruder. There were a few snorts and dancing steps as we passed. But returning to the barn in the evening, after dark, that snowman was on THEIR side of the path without me, the fearless leader, in between, and that was simply more than they could cope with. Even my oldest most seasoned Haflinger stopped and asked if I’d switch sides and lead from his right side as he was more willing to sacrifice me rather than himself to the arms of the snowman.

Guess we’ll have to expose the horses to various types of scary snowmen in costumes and poses before our blizzardy winter weather clears in the next day or so. After all, Haflingers, just like humans, must learn to cope with adversity and threat even if all that is causing the fear is snowballs on steriods stacked on top of one another by three children enjoying a good joke at some ponies’ expense. As is the case for most scary things, in another few days the snowman and the fear it engendered will be melted and long gone, sucked into the ground and thereby rendered into harmless memory.