If you ask anyone who lives in the South Jersey area to use one word to describe the winter of 2010, I guarantee you that word would be snow.

Yes we had snowstorms for several consecutive weeks, inch after inch falling day and night.  As beautiful as the sparkling white looked from the window, the amount of it and the effort even to get out the door past the piles of it, took some of the loveliness away for most of us. 

However, I know of one creature who felt that the 30-some inches of snow lying in her yard were put there just for her sheer enjoyment and enjoy she did.

Cleo, my playful, energy-filled dog, rolled in, dove in, leaped, twirled and danced in the mounds of fluffy soft fresh snow.  She tasted it, sniffed it, looked up in the sky as it fell and lay down and napped in it. She even privately made yellow snow and begged to go out even when the temp dipped another degree.

Cleo was in a winter paradise for several days. Then as the snow piles warmed and formed a hard crust over the snow-covered fields, her yard, her playground became no fun.  Difficulty in walking and slipping on the icy crust made it impossible to play, sleep or dig. 

She was forced to walk in the already-made single-file path that only went from house to car.  How boring. 

Daily she would cast a wistful look across the once fantastic white funhouse, look away and sigh. What was going on in her head? 

Did she wonder if she'd ever run across the yard of grass and mud again, or think, how soon before I dig a trench and take a nap in the sun?

As January turned to March and the weather called "Lion" turned to "Lamb," Cleo continued to make her daily patrol of her acre, checking the dismal winter melt. 

As Noah sent the dove to fly out and return with a sign that the flood had receded, so I opened the front door for Cleo every morning and sent her forth to bring back a sign that spring was closer than it felt.

I am sure I have seen my dog smile; my canines purposefully stroll in and tell her master "I told you so."  I have been humbled in the sight of my messenger doves. err dog's return.  The sight of fresh dirt covering her beautiful white face and mud covering her paws almost to her knees was as stirring a form of evidence as the olive branch brought to Noah. 

The waters had receded; the mound of snow had melted enough to show the earth was still there for all our enjoyment. And seeing the happy dirty face made me feel the jolt of that miracle in my heart.

My all-business pup continues to patrol, dig through the dirt, and even lie in the still-remaining snow. I can now make it to the car without the delay of snow in my path, see a crocus breaking through the earth toward the bright sky, and watch a descendant of the historical dove wing through the trees. 

Happy Thaw

I do hope you have a white and magical Christmas.

***

Here is a cookie, nice and chocolaty, and with the appearance of snow on top.

Snow Cap Chocolate Cookies 

Ingredients:

* 12 Tablespoons butter, softened

* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed

* 4 large eggs

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 cup baking cocoa powder

* 1 Tablespoon baking powder

* 3/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

* 2 cups powdered sugar, for rolling

Directions:

1. Combine butter and sugar in a bowl; use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until completely combined.

3. Stir in vanilla extract.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

5. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet until completely combined.

6. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

8. After chilling, preheat oven to 350F.

9. Roll dough into 1 1/2 Tablespoon-sized balls with your hands and roll thoroughly in powdered sugar.

10. Transfer to baking sheet and bake on 350F for 12 minutes.

11. Allow cookies to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.

12. Have these cookies instead of having a snow storm!

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

My wish, a very Merry Christmas and good health to all. 

Jargowski writes from Court House.