My dad sent me this photo of the snowman that my nephew, Colton, left in the front yard. My parents were not the only ones to enjoy the snow and Colton’s artistic efforts. Zeke, my parents’ loaner/bonus Aussie Shepherd, found the snowman, too, and decided this was the place to go.

The Hazards of Being a Snowman in a House with Five Dogs --photo Ray Randall

The Hazards of Being a Snowman in a House with Five Dogs
–photo Ray Randall

Zeke wasn’t quite certain why we found his make-do fire-hydrant artistry so funny, but we did. How could we not?

My parents’ longtime friend, Jeanne, visited over Christmas. Jeanne lives in a city so far north it may as well be Canada. If you think Montana is cold, the wind howling off The lake during the winter months can make even Montana feel more like northern Wyoming. My dad is the one responsible for finding Jeanne when my parents lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, over 40 years ago. Mum and dad were newly married, and he was doing an internship in equine surgery at the University of Minnesota while she worked as a physical therapist. It just so happened that Jeanne was a physical therapist as well. Growing up, I remember mum thinning horses’ manes and tails, saving what she culled to send to Jeanne for one project or another. Jeanne, in return, sent findings from estate sales, old postcards, or oddities that she knew they would find amusing.

This past February, Mum had a lot of shows that she was scheduled to judge, so Jeanne came and spent the month with Dad. They did hugely exciting things like go to Billings, feed the dogs, look at cows, and the like, but life is always better with old friends. This Christmas trip was a bit more interesting. Jeanne go to go hiking with dogs, watch the Dennys’ buffalo, and even took home her very own buffalo skull. And yes, those are as much fun to get through airport security as you might think.

But back to the yellowed, dribbled upon snowman. Dad was showing off his photography skills to mum and Jeanne, and that reminded Jeanne of her own yellow-snow story. Several people in Jeanne’s building were upset that residents’ dogs were turning the snow yellow. (This is the very definition of a first-world problem.) Jeanne’s solution? She snuck out one night with some food coloring and sprinkled some blues, reds, and greens to the dogs’ own yellow additions, thereby rendering artistic expression to bodily function. I would have very much enjoyed watching people’s expressions the next morning and can only hope they found it just as funny. I have no doubt that all of the neighborhood dogs did. I bet they just wished the had a wider palette with which to work!

Food-Color Snowman, Mum's Ode to Jeanne

Food-Color Snowman, Mum’s Ode to Jeanne