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This one is a bit dashed off. Forgive typos (or more typos).

The New England winter this year has been a snowy one. And cold. For example, a few nights ago it snowed about six inches in Providence. This is one in a series of storms that have hit us in the last few months. Because my daily ritual is walking my dog first thing in the morning, down to the park, I have become accustomed to the attendant ritual of bundling required for our ventures. I wear long pants with a narrow ankle to fit into my boots, a pair of Bogs that were gifted me by my former colleague and friend Michelle. They are covered in pink and purple flowers which my boyfriend likes and which I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Since I moved here, my color palette has moved into shades of brown, grey and black almost solely. The boots help me combat the dark, I would say. I put on thick wool socks; I wear a grey knit cap, and a brown, down jacket, which is long and has pretend fur around the hood. I put on my mittens and head out with Nia. I do this every morning as a way of honoring the little being in my life who brings me the most unconditional love and comfort, my little tortilla dog, my constant companion, my friend.

The morning of the most recent snowstorm, I headed out late—9 o’clock or so and discovered with delight that I was the first person out. This sounds silly but people do not use the park with their dogs in the snow. A few die-hards trudge their way through but mostly the snow is left untracked for the first day. It remains an uncharted canvas of white, framed by the dark of trees bending. Snow is Nia’s favorite kind of weather. She frolics and runs like a small puppy. Her thick, shaggy fur is perfectly suited to this condition. She circles around back to me with a happy smile on her face, awash in curiosity and the magic of the present moment. I could seriously learn more from her. I use this time to try to be in the moment as well. I work to let the feel of my shoulders under my coat sink comfortably onto my spine; I let me hands rest at my sides. I feel the crunch and whir of fresh snow underfoot in perfect rhythm with my breath. I love the fresh tracks we make through the snow and the arching shapes of the sycamore trees overhead covered in a en ephemeral dimension of white. I like that this is one place here where I find life to be somewhat quiet and fairly peaceful. We walk for about a half an hour as the day begins to stir.

As we turn the corner back toward the house, the New Englanders have emerged with their shovels. The entirety of the morning will be filled with the sound of their scraping and lifting of the weight of the white. Neighbors will stop to talk to each other, they will discuss the lack of plowing on our end of town; they will perhaps even take a day off from work or go in late. Some businesses will be shut down, and people will drive less. I will leave my own car in the drive all day and spend it with my sweetheart, working and then reading and relaxing into the evening. I thank god for this weather. I don’t know how else we would all slow down here in this east coast land where everyone seems to be so driven by work and production. It is in their blood. I’ve come to appreciate the precision with which people conform their lives here. And I’ve learned to navigate my own softness within the harder edges of this world. I’ve cultivated a smile now, which disappeared for a few months, (years?) when I first arrived. I’ve learned to come in out of the cold. I’ve found a warm hand in the man I love. I’ve learned a little more, about gratitude—not when it’s easy but when it’s the only way through the dark.