The snow stopped falling soon after dawn.
From somewhere along the frozen river came the harsh scraping of a shovel; otherwise, all was still.
The yard behind the dingy white house was somewhat improved by the snow — it had buried some of the junk and had given a jaunty white cap to a rusted old pickup truck.
One mound of snow shifted suddenly, and a shaggy black head rose from it. The big dog lurched up, snow sliding from her furry back then spraying everywhere as she gave a vigorous shake.
Pudding plunged through the deep snow along the chain-link fence.
“Awrraw,” she said questioningly, studying the corner where the snow drifted high.
With a happy bound, she plunged up the ramp that nature had made for her, and though she sank into the drift, her momentum carried her up and over.
With a small yip of joy, she bounded toward the river.
The bank was high on this side; Pudding sat at the top and just watched. A woman skated around a newly cleared rectangular space, then suddenly pirouetted, her graceful, spinning body a blur, long hair whipping from under a yellow knitted hat.
The ice dancer stopped with a scrape of a skate blade, then, as if performing for thousands, gave a low bow.
The woman glanced up, and Pudding grinned down at her, pink tongue lolling. The skater laughed and waved.
But the chickens were waiting.
Pudding loved poultry — yes, in her kibble, but she didn’t connect the fascinating, feathery fowl in the coop at the Richard Farm with food.
She’d crouch with her nose against the chicken-wire door and watch them pecking at the corn on the ground the way a human watches a favorite movie that never gets old.