The cold snap warmed up today. Instead of snow or sleet or frozen pavement, all day there was dark cloud cover and hard rain flooding the icy streets and yards.
In that steady deluge, there was not a soul or passing car on the streets. For once, the park was empty of sports events and joggers and dogs. From the road it’s a sharp slope down, much too slippery to navigate today, on a trail descending straight through tall conifers and oaks, to a broad field covered with snow. Under heavy rain the snow was melting fast, steaming up in a blanket of thick drifting mist. This scene could be a backdrop by Ivan Bilibin, awaiting knights in armor on horseback.
In my dreams during the cold snap, Angelina showed up in a cameo role to help me be a better Catholic. (Later I sent a text to thank her. She texted back “Oh my gosh that is hilarious. Since that’s the last thing I want you to be.”) Anyway, Dream Angelina knew that in our icy weather, it would be hard for me to get myself out to evening Mass. She told me “Mary. Don’t even try walking over to church in this weather. You stay home. I will drive there, stand in the Communion line, and bring you back a little wafer whatever it means to you. You’ve been to Confession first, right?” Well, no; I haven’t been to Confession in over a year, and had to confess that to her. “A year!” said Dream Angelina. “Then you certainly are not spiritually prepared to receive Communion if you have not been to Confession. Well, I’ll go stand in that line too. Here: write down all of your sins on this piece of paper. I’ll carry it into the voting booth with me and add it on to my sins to tell the priest. Father can absolve us both, like a two for one special.”
To reward her piety, her offer to present all of my sins as her own, and her faith that they would all fit on one sheet of paper, I stopped by her house tonight to share an annual splurge holiday confection: four ounces of organic milk chocolate drops with a crunchy colorful candy coating. They’re an imitation of a familiar childhood candy, but made with different ingredients (the pigments come from turmeric, radish, red cabbage, spirulina, and beets). Real-Life Angelina and I tucked in to the jar and started munching the chocolate drops. They were an ideal festive backdrop to chatting and watching “Angels We Have Heard on High” by the Piano Guys.
When I unscrewed the jar lid, Super Pup snapped to attention on her dog bed. She’d just had a relaxing walk topped off with delicious pup-healthy treats. But even after I tightly resealed the jar, she zeroed in on that unfamiliar substance under glass, a food which canines are not at all evolved to digest. “Chocolate is toxic for dogs,” I informed her. She was not deterred. She rested a tiny paw on my shoe. She whimpered in a plaintive manner. She crept on to my knee. She nudged the sealed jar, staring at vivid colors that a dog (they’re pretty well colorblind) couldn’t even see. I put the jar away out of sight in my duffle bag, thinking she would forget about it. Instead she crept closer to track and sniff my mouth and hands. She tried a protest yip. She even tried flashing her teeth. I nudged her away with a fingertap. Nothing daunted, she vaulted off the sofa to rummage among some toys. She vaulted right back at me with a little slice of bone. Cuddling right up, she nestled the bone slice in my palm, then tipped her head and gazed sweetly in my eyes. “That’s a trade,” Angelina explained. “Fork over that chocolate, and you can gnaw my favorite bone.” For the rest of the visit Super Pup plied me with ploys to get at that candy. Finally we leashed her and Bingo so Angelina could walk me home. Only then did the standoff end.
None of this even mentions Our Lord and Christmas. That story comes tomorrow. Silent Night!!