Snow!

Despite her lack of cold weather fur, Sarrah excitedly danced in our rare snow.  Many years, we do not get any snow near sea level.  Some winter’s we get a trace, others an inch or so as we did for Sarrah’s first, possibly instilling a lifelong zest for snow play.

On extreme occasion we get Buried with several inches, those heavy snowfalls were delightful, for Sarrah.  Her eyes got bigger; she made whimpers of excitement, when we finally got outside she would buck and bounce, jumping into the thick of it.  I used the longer leash, usually reserved for parks and beach walks, extending a fifteen-foot roving radius of restrained freedom for galloping through yards.  Like a kid off on a snow day I would bundle up and head out for the best, to turn her loose in the backyard to run, roll, dive and play.  She would gallop through the thick bright white fluff and occasionally stuff her nose into it, snorting with excitement.  It seemed that the huge fluffy flakes were her favorite kind, when the opportunity to get out into it came falling, we did.

Sarrah discovered regardless of the amount of this mysterious cold illuminating white stuff, it only stays here for a few days and then as quickly, it goes… away.

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Frost

Regardless of what the calendar tells us, our winter weather shows up (or doesn’t) when it feels like it, displaying another perk of living with our northern marine air.  During this time of year most things have a steel grey tone as the night takes a larger portion of the day and the sun often fails to shine through.  Even our evergreen plants seem darker, lacking in their color.  The once bright signs of Fall lose their color and clump into soggy piles of last years’ leftovers in the corners, becoming dreary coverings of decay and dormancy.

In the lower elevated, more populated areas of the Pacific Northwest we tend to be cold and often damp.  But on occasion, ready or not we have freezing temperatures and wake up to a bright fresh glazing of frost.  Sarrah discovered this crunch of frozen grass under paw to be a treat, loving to run with her nose right on the sparkling tips of the frosted blades.  Consumed with excitement by the mischievous spirit of Jack Frost tickling and tingling her snorting nose she would gasp for air while zigzagging the leash, dragging me around the block.  This annual random occurrence under the glowing streetlights was always good fun and warmed me with a smile.

 

Ashes-n-Ink

I had heard of memorial tattoos in the past, typically those emblazoned with names and dates.  More recently with the evolution of the art form, portrait types have become popular.  I had even heard something about a more extreme commitment, using a little cremation ashes in the ink.

I have collected a few tattoos over the years, prior to their current popularity.  They are mostly personalized designs; with no special meaning attached other than being decades’ old souvenirs of simpler times.  So the idea and realities of inked skin was not new to me.  I pondered the idea, with my twist.  The thought of replicating some of Sarrah’s favored spots around what I already had, seemed appealing to me.

I went to a tattoo convention January Twenty Second, Two Thousand Eleven, in Marysville.  This in itself was an interesting and distracting new experience that I found to be mostly tailored to the kind of artwork that I already had.  Out of all of the colorful artists I found a few potentials and let my mind work further.  If I decided to have this done, I wanted the right vibe to be part of the experience, in some kind of appropriate atmosphere, where the intent of meaning could be felt.  I did some internet surfing of these possibilities, viewed more of their artworks and refined my search.

I visited the Hidden Hand tattoo parlor in the unique neighborhood of Fremont, tucked under a building; interestingly just down the street from where Sarrah had gone for acupuncture and ultimately her last trip.  I met with the artist Roni, who combined with the atmosphere and locale, seemed right.  I gave her artistic freedom with photos of Sarrah and tracings of my foot.  My initial reaction to her emailed design was, “Wow, that’s bigger than I had envisioned” but I kept it to myself to live with the idea.  And like Sarrah, the artwork quickly grew on me.  I decided that a design to honor my best friend, deserved Big.

The unedited work of art with some of Sarrah’s ashes in the black ink was done June Seventeenth, Two Thousand Eleven; on what would have been her 13th birthday.  Now, she can walk with me… for the rest of my journey.

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I am not promoting tattoo’s in any way (I actually liked them more before the herds gravitated), but to my un-expecting open mindset, I did feel some relief in the pain of it.  The artwork healed nicely and serves me with a little visual solace, which most likely only I understand, making it better.

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Perspective

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Aside from the Ocean, the obvious main ingredient of this beach is Sand.  Unlike the mostly barnacle covered rocky beaches of the Puget Sound, near home, the Long Beach Peninsula is sandy, miles… of fine tan colored sand.  Depending on the tide there is about twenty to one hundred yards of beach from the edge of the grass-covered dunes to the changing ocean line.  Here the ocean licks the sand, packing it into a high-speed surface, making for a smooth run near the edge.  Or where as Sarrah preferred it, sand piled loosely by the wind, storms and high tides up against the dunes where the grass grows and waves like wheat fields; catching the blowing sand into thick, fluffy unstable drifts for jumping and plowing through.

Sand is magical; it brings out playfulness in a dog, youth in the old and delight in a kid.  Sand does not care how careful you are, it will get into everything.  These little bits of ancient rock ground in the waves, spread by the wind, over time will get between your toes and everywhere else.  Sarrah loved it!  She did her part to share it.  It seemed no matter how well I wiped her feet, she somehow smuggled some in.