D and J w-border small

Handling the weather when the weather’s hard to handle

By DOUG DAVISON

The weather over the past few months has prevented him from doing much journeying beyond the boundaries of his front yard, but for a big ol’ Welsh Corgi like Jamie, just getting through the lengthy wintry mess has been a journey in itself.

Jamie typically likes spending plenty of time outside, enjoying activities like rolling on the grass, lying on the porch, sniffing odors wafting on the Ozarks breeze, and marking select spots around the remote Texas County outpost where he lives with me, my wife Wendy, and our collection of other hoofed, winged, and claw-bearing tenants.

But the extended period of cold, wet, and often snowy weather that has dominated the climate in south-central Missouri during the early stages of 2013 has caused this particular canine character to alter his style a bit and spend the vast majority of his waking hours indoors.

In fact, the conditions have frequently been so sloppy, sloshy, or slushy that the big guy has at times only wanted to be out long enough to make a deposit in a corner of the yard, while otherwise remaining in suspended animation in one of his favorite rest areas in the house.

On numerous occasions this year (especially since February began), the yard at our property has more resembled a wet sponge than a chunk of land. Of course, the clearance between Jamie’s underside and the ground is only in the neighborhood of about two inches, so when the ground’s wet and muddy, his belly tends to be the same.

When he comes in from a short jaunt to one of his designated drop zones, Jamie inevitably bears slimy, grimy signs of the times, and the smell of wet Corgi permeates the air in the laundry room. Mucky conditions notwithstanding, he’s never one to miss an opportunity to share his knowledge. Like one day last week.

“You know, that soil you’re toweling off of me has a fairly significant lime content,” Jamie said. “That’s due to the area’s karst geology. Of course, the word karst comes from a German word with the same spelling that describes landforms created by mildly acidic water affecting soluble bedrock, like limestone. And limestone is very common around here, you know, because the whole region was covered by salt water many, many years ago.”

“Wow,” I said. “You obviously know something about this area’s geology.”

“I’m just sayin’,” Jamie said.

Not that the Big Lug hasn’t enjoyed some quality out-time this year. When wintry storms have covered the landscape’s miry mush with a clean, fresh blanket of white, he has taken advantage of the situation and gone doggone giddy in the frozen groundcover.

Due to his God-given, long-and-low physique, romping in a winter wonderland is, in effect, another form of journey for Jamie, and definitely presents a challenge. But he seems to love meeting that challenge, and does so with a unique outlook that only a land manatee like him could have.

Like during that February storm that dumped several inches of sleet and then topped it off with a bunch of freezing rain. The crusty result was so rigid and strong that our car and truck didn’t even break through the surface. Naturally, 35 pounds of Corgi didn’t make a dent, either, but that didn’t deter Jamie from having a good time.

“This stuff’s weird,” he said. “My paws don’t go into it, and my claws can’t grab ahold of it. And if I get up any speed, I slide.

“I like it.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty unusual,” I said. “It’s like a layer of frozen mashed potatoes mixed with cement.”

“Don’t tease me like that,” Jamie said. “And actually, I already tried taking a bite of it and just about broke my face.”

“Be careful, big man,” I said. “No reason to damage that handsome mug of yours.”

“You’re right,” Jamie said. “Blemishing this masterpiece of a profile would be an awful shame.

“And speaking of cement, some kinds can harden underwater because of their chemical make up, you know.”

“Again, big man, your general knowledge is amazing,” I said. “Have you considered Jeopardy?”

“Yep, I gave it some thought, but me and Alex Trebek agreed it might not work out,” Jamie said. “It might be kind of hard for me to press the button on that little thingy the contestants use. No thumbs, you know.”

And then there was last week’s early spring storm that dropped about six inches of snow in these parts. Since that’s about four inches more than Jamie’s ground clearance, he basically plowed a trench everywhere he went.

“Now this is more like it,” he said. “This stuff gets out of my way when I move forward. I like it.”

“You look like one of those snowplow trains,” I said.

“Gangway!” Jamie said. “Snowplow train comin’ through!”

Our other Corgi, Gertie (the perma-pup), is always on the go, but shifts into an even higher gear in the snow. She’ll literally run in circles at top speed, and then stop suddenly and take a big bite out of the fluffy white stuff, like it was frosting on a gigantic cake.

“That dog’s crazy,” Jamie said. “I like it.”

“Yeah, fun’s her middle name, big man,” I said. “She can’t help herself – to her, everything’s exciting.”

“Even a dead skunk?” Jamie asked. “Or a piece of rotten asparagus?”

“Well, maybe not quite everything,” I said. “But I’d say a dead skunk might just qualify.”

Now that the weather has perhaps taken a lasting turn away from winter, it won’t be long before Jamie (and me, his appointed chauffeur and wordsmith) can get down to some real journeys in the Jillikins. Among other things, the Big Lug has plans of swimming in lakes and rivers, going for a boat ride, doing some fishing, and visiting a few more state parks.

Along the way, the he intends to learn more about the Ozarks, make some new friends, and eat plenty.

“Yeah, like french fries and ginger snaps,” Jamie said. “That’s the good stuff.”

“You say that about pretty much all food,” I said.

“Yeah, food,” Jamie said. “That’s the good stuff.”

Spring will no doubt provide Jamie ample opportunity to enjoy great weather in great places. Hopefully, he’ll also be able to keep going all summer long in temperatures a bit further south of 100 degrees than the past couple of years. Whatever the case, he’s ready and raring to go.

“Yeah, let’s roll,” he said. “I like it.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Jamie is a big ol’ Welsh Corgi. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Jamie displays his favorite solution to handling the run of cold, wet, and even snowy weather that has been common in the Ozarks for many weeks.

Jamie displays his favorite solution to handling the run of cold, wet, and even snowy weather that has been common in the Ozarks for many weeks.

Jamie stands atop a rock-solid sheet of frozen H2O following a February sleet storm that was followed up by several hours of freezing rain.

Jamie stands atop a rock-solid sheet of frozen H2O following a February sleet storm that was followed up by several hours of freezing rain.

Jamie plows through snow after an early spring storm in Texas County. Wait, that's a snowplow train.

Jamie plows through snow after an early spring storm in Texas County. Wait, that’s a snowplow train.

Advertisements