The tail of another year

Bad and good years alike come to an end.
Bad and good years alike come to an end.

For all the idiocy and death jammed into it, 2016 seemed an especially fleet year. Maybe it was the leap day.

Per Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain, I neither celebrate 2016’s demise nor 2017’s arrival: “Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. … it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” There is plenty of pistol-firing without further contribution, and any day is as good as another to resolve self-improvement.

Wyatt: Ready for whatever the new year brings.
Wyatt: Ready for whatever the new year brings.

As dawn broke on the penultimate day of the calendar year, the dogs and I hiked up the path to Tyler Pasture, a secluded meadow in the Front Range foothills west of Denver. The final weeks of the year were emotionally and financially draining as Miles battled a tenacious E. coli infection that apparently necessitated culturing every bodily fluid possible, but Miles and I both seemed reinvigorated as we plowed through a few inches of undisturbed powder under a downright toasty sun (he had the benefit of costly antibiotics, I a cup of fast food bitterness that had the coffee-like traits of caffeine, blackness and warmth).

Aspen by dawn's early light.
Aspen by dawn’s early light.

Snow still puts a spring in Reese’s step, and he bounded/hobbled with abandon ahead of Miles and I, who were tethered together to prevent Miles from blindly concussing himself on a boulder or tree. He was not, however, able to keep pace with Wyatt, who darted through an aspen grove ahead.

The tags on Reese’s and Wyatt’s collars jingled as they raced to and fro in the snow. The sound sparked a fragment of Alfred Tennyson:

“Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

Wyatt was disappointed that he couldn't bring that rock with us to 2017.
Wyatt was disappointed that he couldn’t bring that rock with us to 2017.

After 2016, I don’t hold much hope for truth in the coming year. But dogs are great reminders to not lament the past or fret about the future too much; to instead find poetry in the moment.

May 2017’s bright moments outnumber its dismal ones.


4 thoughts on “The tail of another year

Add yours

  1. I’m curious to hear more about what you think of it. Paulsen is a gifted storyteller, and his approach to the race as an outsider is fascinating. I also love the way his appreciation for and understanding of the dogs evolves through training and the race.


  2. A very happy new year to you and the pack. I am reading a book for our our book group that I am sure you must have on your shelves: Winterdance by Gary Paulsen. Celia’s choice, and seventy something pages in I am finding it fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy new year to you as well! Winterdance is indeed a favorite. I had to be talked down from the idea of selling everything and starting a sled team after reading that. One of the great books about the bond between dogs and humans.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: