Morning after Sunday's storm

If you wonder why I’m eschewing sidewalks to walk Reggie down residential streets these days, here’s why. Above you can see what a typical Newton street looked like on Monday, the morning after Sunday’s second-in-several-days snowstorm. The road is slick with ice and hard-packed snow, but at least it’s plowed smooth. Below, in contrast, is what a sidewalk along a busy Newton street looked like this morning: plowed, but barely passable.

Barely passable

Yesterday Leslee blogged the difficulties of getting around on ice and hard-frozen snow…and several of her commenters oohed and aahed over the pretty pictures that accompanied her post. Yes, the snow is lovely to look at in carefully cropped pictures, but try walking a dog through it.

Recycle this

Unlike many New Englanders, I don’t hate winter. Snow is lovely to look at, and usually the worst of it is cleaned up within days of a big snowstorm. For the most part, I have no problem getting around during snow season. In Keene, I live within walking distance of my face-to-face classes; in Newton, I live within walking distance of the T. When I need to drive somewhere, I rely on my Subaru to get me through.

Not a slave to fashion, I don’t mind wearing YakTrax on my hiking boots; if it were physically possible to equip my person with snow tires, all-wheel drive, and anti-lock brakes, I’d do that, too. Hats mess up your hair and warm coats are never as stylish as what the Shivering Skinnies wear in fashion magazines, but I wear a hat and puffy winter coat regardless. In other words, I’m all about function over form. If it gets me there upright, warm, and in one piece, I’m loving it regardless of what it looks like.

Buried fire hydrant

Reggie, unfortunately, isn’t as agile or adventurous as I am. As a younger dog, he loved romping in the snow, but he never liked to walk on ice. These days as a “senior” canine citizen, Reggie has more trouble getting around than he used to. Cold weather exacerbates his grandpa-creaky joints, and he’s not senile enough to forget past slips down icy steps, which he now refuses to navigate.

The challenge of getting around on ice and snow is complicated if you have to relieve yourself in a frozen Winter Wonderland. If there’s ice or frozen snow covering Reggie’s accustomed bathroom spots, he knows where he’s supposed to go but sometimes can’t figure out how to do it. Over the past week, Reggie’s had two inside “accidents” because the snowy dog-pen where he’s supposed to “do his business” when it’s too icy to walk was itself too crusty for him to dig an appropriate spot. There’s no greater embarrassment for a grown dog, I think, than to experience the second-puppyhood of housebreaking “oopsies” because you chose to hold it rather than trying to lift your leg on ice.

Buried car

I’m truly glad that Newton streets are clean and passable now, especially since we have rain and snow predicted for tonight. The last thing drivers need is a layer of ice atop some ten inches of snow we got last week. But would I be a total Winter Witch to wish that pedestrians could be as well-served? I know it’s not safe to walk a dog down sometimes-slick suburban streets; I’d much prefer to be striding sidewalks. But I have to walk Reggie somewhere, and the snow that wasn’t promptly plowed or shoveled this weekend is now as hard as brick.

I’m not alone in my consternation; other folks are facing frozen-snow roadblocks where pedestrian paths and sidewalks used to be. Until temperatures rise and Newton’s snowy sidewalks have a chance to thaw, both Reggie and I will be watching our step during our street-and-sometimes-sidewalk walks.

Plow tracks