The canvas is white and no color has been added to the painting yet. As the scene is laid out, the Painter adds some tall, leafless trees to the landscape, hundreds of them. In the midst of the trees, the faint edges of a pale-yellow house begin to take shape on a hillside, and then the glow of lights in windows. Through one window is the glow of a roaring fire in the fireplace bringing warmth to the children playing. In another window, leaning over a computer at the dining room table, is me.
Yesterday we were blessed with the thickest blanket of snow our hillside has seen since our arrival here. I was graciously ushered home by my boss at midday as he headed out the door himself, knowing that the marvels of modern technology would allow us to work from the comfort of home. After travelling through heavy clumps of snowfall in a heavy thread of traffic, I made a hard run at the steep incline of the ski slope that used to be our driveway. I snaked back and forth, accelerating hard, and finally made it into the garage and shut the door behind me.
As the winter storm bore down on us, I reluctantly called our daughter Reagan to let her know that I would be unable to make my trip down to get her for the weekend, fearing that the roads would soon become impassable. My plans had also included meeting up with our son Zachary and his girlfriend Korri, but that got cancelled as well. So Reagan and Zachary holed up at their place, about ninety miles east of us, and we holed up in ours.
I slaved away on my computer for most of the afternoon, breathing in the aroma of the beef stew that Katrina had simmering in the kitchen. As the snow continued to fall outside, the older kids played in the next room while Joshua and Olivia napped upstairs. Katrina had taken a break upstairs as well, especially in light of the cold she had been fighting the last couple of days.
Before I knew it the afternoon had passed, the snow had gotten deeper, and Katrina, Joshua, and Olivia emerged downstairs as good as new. As I continued to work and the kids played, Katrina put cornbread in the oven, and excitedly prepared some “chocolate-chippers” after taking my request for dessert. As I paused in my work at the table for a bit, Katrina distributed bowls of soup and replaced the pan of cornbread she had pulled out of the oven with the pan of cookies she had whipped up.
My belly was full of hot soup and coffee was brewing as the cookies cooled. I was set. The table had been cleared, and I set in to do a little more work before concluding for the evening. Then, over the roar of the kids playing, I could barely hear a “help” cry somewhere in the distance. Maybe I was hallucinating or the rush of hot soup had affected my hearing. Then, I heard it again, faintly but a little plainer this time. “David, please help me,” was the cry.
In the five seconds it took me to bound up the stairs, knowing that it was Katrina’s voice, I imagined that “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” commercial. I wondered in my mind if Katrina had overdone it slaving away in the kitchen for me and had fallen upstairs somewhere and cracked her skull or something. As I entered our bedroom like a marathon runner, ready to resuscitate her, I discovered an entirely different scene.
As the thirty degree temperature of the outside air hit me in the face, I could see Katrina frantically trying to get the screen off of our bedroom window. Instead of a physical injury, she had lost her mind. I quickly assessed that she was trying desperately to coax our dog, Sammy, away from the edge of the roof outside. Maybe he had lost his mind.
“Sammy’s going to slip on the snow and fall off the roof,” she said. In a flash I applied the proper combination required to remove the screen, and Katrina retrieved Sammy as he ran to the window, safe and sound. As she happily wandered away wallowing love all over Sammy, I quickly inserted the screen and shut the window as I muttered “stupid dog” under my breath a few times.
Let me introduce you to Sammy the wonder dog. Sammy is our almost two year old Yorkie-Poo. He is an outside dog. I won’t elaborate on that issue any further.
Let me also introduce you to the architecture of our house. We live in a multi-level house we designed, which we built on the side of a hill. The downstairs is a walk-out basement, built into the ground, so the second floor exits level with our yard in the back, where Sammy stays. Adjacent to our backyard is the garage roof, which comes right down to ground level in the back.
When Sammy came of age he became brave. He soon discovered that he could just walk right up onto the roof and roam free. The garage roof is very steep, but once Sammy gets over the top and down the other side, it blends into our front porch roof which is fairly level. Sammy lives and thrives on this roof. He thinks he is the king of the hill. Every time someone new comes to visit, they announce to us their worry about our dog on the roof, but are soon amazed at Sammy’s agility to get around up there. When he stands at the highest peak of the garage on the edge, leaning outward, ears spread, he looks kind of like one of those gargoyles on a rooftop. It’s a sight to behold.
I guess when the snow lifts and spring comes I may have to build that short run of safety fence where the garage roof meets ground level. But, if Sammy could not roam free to guard the house while pacing the roof he’d probably go out of his mind. Then again, maybe he already has.
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, January 30, 2010