January Spring

I take Tisen, our new foster dog, for a walk.  I leave my jacket at home because it’s 61 degrees.  The birds are in full-on spring mode.  Even the insects seem to have hatched.  I don’t know if 61 degrees in Chattanooga in January is normal, but it’s nice.  I’m disappointed when the sun starts to set at 6PM as if the warmer weather brought longer days.

As I watch Tisen prance along (if he were a horse, he’d be a Lipazzaner), looking more full of himself after 36 hours of being spoiled silly.  A runner passes us going the opposite direction.  He didn’t react to her at all yesterday–it’s the same woman.  But today, he lunges at her, growling a low warning.  Either the spring weather has him feeling his oats or he’s decided I’m someone he needs to protect from mysterious people running at us.

He reacts the same way 10 minutes later when two men run on a path that curves around and runs into ours.  Yet, they’re running away from us.  What makes runners look so threatening to dogs?  Even our gentle Bogart was not happy if a runner didn’t make a wide enough berth when they were coming towards me.

The spring weather has runners out in droves.  I don’t know if they’ve been running on treadmills and are thrilled for the change in temperature or if they have been waiting to start running since the New Year and the weather removed their last excuse.  Whatever it is, I have been walking these paths daily and I can tell you there are more runners out today than there have been since we moved here last August.

This is the “way up” phenomena, I suppose.  The “way up” phenomena in temperature changes plays out about the same as the “way down” phenomena in weight changes.  When the temperature is on the “way up,” it feels extra warm by comparison to the cold temperatures and so we suddenly feel inspired to don less clothing and exercise out doors even though, if the temperature were on the “way down,” we would be wearing layers at the same temperature.

Similarly, the “way down” phenomena in weight loss inspires us to think we look much better when we’ve lost a few pounds and to dress in clothing that, when we were on the “way up,” we would not have been caught dead in at the same exact weight.  Maybe that should be called the “weigh down” phenomena?

Tisen and I stop in our favorite store, Bone Appetite, for the third day in a row and pick up the oatmeal shampoo they were out of.  Tisen’s skin is getting less flaky and his coat is getting more shiny, but he still has red, irritated areas that he licks and chews at.  Between switching him to a high quality food, feeding him fish oil, bathing him in oatmeal, and treating him with “Nu Stock,” I’m hoping he’ll stop itching soon.

Wind and Snow

On January first, we turned on the heat.  It doesn’t actually kick on until today, the 2nd, since it was so warm yesterday our apartment was 72 degrees and the thermostat was set on 68.  However, the temperature starts to drop into the range of temperature even us Ohioans call “bitterly cold” by this morning.  In fact, when I check the weather in Columbus, it’s the same temperature there as it is in Chattanooga–a whooping 21 degrees.

We drive out to Lookout Mountain hoping I will have my first flight off the big hill.  We aren’t optimistic when we check the weather and see 15 mph winds predicted.  When we step outside, I figure our only hope is that the valley where the training hills are located is somehow sheltered from this wind.

But, it is not to be.  We set up my glider as the instructors watch the wind socks.  An instructor takes a test flight off the big hill and does so many dips and dives as the wind tosses him around that we all know I won’t be flying today.  Instead, I get a thorough lesson in glider preflight checks, so I at least it’s not a waste of time.

Pat helps me disassemble the glider and then we head up to the office to work on our written tests.

After spending the day working on our tests, I watch the sunset through the back door of the hang gliding office.  The door opens onto a deck that hangs over the valley.  The wind is blowing so hard the air coming through the crack around the door blows the hair back off my face.  I think about opening the door to take a picture of the sunset, but it is so cold in the office already, I can’t bring myself to open the door.  I shoot through the door with my iPhone.

When at last we leave for the day, snow is blowing through the beams of the headlights.  After a half mile or so, the snow disappears as we move into lower elevations.  We are relieved, having been forewarned that everything shuts down if there is snow on the ground–the area doesn’t have equipment to clear the roads.

We make our way home and are grateful we’ve turned the heat on already.  As we settle in for the evening, Pat looks out the window and says, “Look, honey, it’s raining sideways!”  When I look out the window, there is snow blowing so fast through the light from a street light that it really does look like sideways rain.  But, it’s snow.  Because it is only visible in the light from the streetlight, it looks like the street light is some kind of snow machine blowing snow onto the street.  It stops as suddenly as it started.  There is no snow on the ground.  Not even the grass shows a dusting of white.  So much for our first snow.