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.
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).
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.”
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.