February 21, 2010

Snow Day at Mellon Park

Scenic Writing
Design Seminar II

Mellon Park is three feet high in snow. The black gate encompassing it is merely black spikes rising out of an infinite white blob. On one side of the gate is the street that can't be seen under all the snow. And on our side is the valley of the park that inches its way up the hill. The hill is like an enormous ocean wave right before it's peak that has been frozen still and dusted with white powder. A few trees dot the surface of the park. They are massive versions of the black gate—foreign bodies protruding up through the blob. The snow absorbs the sound of the voices echoing over the top of the hill. Jonathan and I are like two knee-deep statues watching our dogs run rampant, stamping the vast blanket.

A black lab and two young boys—one in a blue jacket, the other in a red—race up the hill, carving out a new walking path. The dog gets distracted and runs over first to Mara, my yellow lab. She sniffs Mara's butt, and then Boo—Jonathan's red and black mutt—comes up and pokes noses with her—black nose to black nose. When the dog, "Bella," is called back, she glances over her right shoulder, hesitates, and then dashes up the hill towards her pack.

Mara's tail has sped up like a hummingbirds wings. The yellowish-white blur is spastic. Specks of snow, like dust, fly around her hind legs and the sun shimmers through them making fireworks during the day. Jonathan begins packing up snowballs and dropping them by his side. Their heaviness sinks them down—maybe ten inches—into the white powder. "I'm getting a bunch ready so I can throw one, and then when Boo comes back, I'll hit her in the face with the next." Jonathan's black hair and tan skin contrast the overwhelming white of the field of vision. As soon as Boo sees the round form of the snowball, she goes still. Her eyes are glued to Jonathan's gloves cupping the snow. His right, somewhat muscular arm cranks back. His jacket crackles as the material scrapes against itself. Boo's gaze follows; up, over to the right, and then like a dart, she's across the park. Mara follows but stops halfway. She watches Boo's nose insert itself into the snowball crater. Boo takes a few bites, swallows, and then runs back. Again, Jonathan's arm cranks back. Crackle. WAP. Before I can even see what happened, the snowball is gone. Boo's pointy nose wobbles up and down as she crunches and swallows. "Watch. It doesn't even phase her. Boo. Get it." He throws another. Again, it lands perfectly and she swallows. "Did you used to play baseball or somethin?" I ask him. "Yeah. I was a pitcher." Boo prepares herself. Crackle. WAP.

I look over at Mara. She has wandered to the tree that catches the bottom of the hill. She hops from one snowcrater to the next. She stands still, pointing her gaze to her next location. Then she flies straight up in the air and lands two feet forward—snow dust blurring her to a fuzzy, yellowish-white. The snow is tail height and her head is lifted to keep her from drowning. She sets up again. Prepare. Look. Jump. On this one, her butt swings to the right and knocks her off balance. Her whole body, except her
pink nose and the crown of her head, disappears into the blob and a cloud of sparkly snow encompasses the air around her. Her butt swings back and forth as she sturdies herself. "Maraaaaaaaaa." I yell at her. Her head jerks around and stops—slightly angled to one side. A few clumps of snow balance on top of her head, between her square-shaped ears. "Come." She plunders obnoxiously through the untouched powder towards me. Some jumps clear the snow completely, keeping a foot of peace between one dot and the next. Others begin to connect the dots as a paw accidentally scrapes across the top inch layer of snow. By the time she reaches me, there are fifteen craters that have unsympathetically disrupted nature's creation.

Boo's black and red face is sparkling with snow. She's intently waiting for the next snowball to fly straight into her mouth. Mara then sturdies her feet, leans back, and plunges on top of Boo. Boo glances back quickly and re-adjusts her gaze to the snowball. Again, Mara pounces—one foot on Boo's back, the other in the snow. Her body falls to the left, and disappears into the abyss. Snow surrounds her whole body except her tail. It remains in view—straight and swinging—like a pendulum keeping to the beat of a fast-paced song. This time, she stands up strong, right behind Boo. Boo is completely still, staring at the snowball. Mara's lips curl and her nose flares. Her head bounces forward and she barks once. Her tail is now sticking straight out, no longer swinging. Boo stares at the snowball. Mara barks twice more. Each bark growing deeper. "Err. Err. eeeeeeee. Urr. Urr." She pounces on Boo again. Boo snaps back at her and then stiffly reconnects her eyes to the snowball.

"Throw one at Mara. See if she can catch it." My lips move in slow motion as the cold seeps in. Boo sits in angst. Mara barks. Jonathan prepares. Boo's black tail starts wafting the snow behind her. "Catch it Mara!" He says. As soon as she turns her head towards him, WAP. It hits the side of her nose. Her whole body jerks still and her eyes go wide. Three seconds go by and then she shakes—her collar tags clinging together, snow encircling her. Jonathan throws another, this time far off into the park valley. Boo dashes towards the snowball and Mara chases her. When Mara catches up, her front legs go down into the snow like a sphinx and her butt protrudes into the air. She barks five or six times head bobbing back and forth forcing out louder and louder barks. Boo's head goes under the surface of the snow as she searches for the snowball. She comes up rapidly chewing, snowcrumbs all around her mouth. She runs back to Jonathan; Mara still in sphinx pose. Mara's gaze follows Boos movements all the way back over to us. Jonathan prepares another snowball and throws it. Boo again darts off. Mara chases her; barking. Boo eats the snowball and runs back leaving Mara behind.

Finally, a group of sledders forms at the top of the hill. Male and female voices echo across the park. A male voice yells out. "Just pick up your feet and hold on." I see him push the other figure down the hill. The deep chunky sound of the human-weighted plastic rolling over the mound of half-packed snow resonates as the sled comes down, closer towards us. Mara's ears pop up and her gaze shifts from Boo to the noise. She runs right in front of the sled as the olive-skinned mid-20-something girl crashes into the snow. The girl squeals in laughter and Mara runs two circles around her. Mara's head leans in to lick her. The girl gets up, dusts off the snow, and trudges up the hill. Mara stays at her heels. The next guy preps the sled. "One. Two. Three. GO." The sled spins down the hill and he grips the sides of it for dear life. A gruff "Urrf." exits Mara's belly as she tries to catch him. Her feet get caught in the snow and she stumbles. The sledder falls over, his black Gortex turning gray when the snow sticks to it. A huge grin forms on his face as Mara hops around him and he pats her on the head. My gaze shifts back to Boo and Jonathan. Jonathan is laughing at Mara and the sledders. Boo is staring at the snowball in Jonathan's glove.

1 comment:

  1. Polly and I laughed while she read it aloud to me over the phone. We could envision it all and then....the photo...it was Great. Yours words and descriptions of it all were wonderful. What fun and what a great writer!