The weather has become increasingly cold of late. So much so that I have been able to revive one of my favourite Winter pastimes: cracking the ice on puddles.
I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed this. My method is to tap on the fragile puddle-ice with my front paws until it breaks and begins to float and I can lap up mouthfuls of the icy goodness contained beneath its tender crust. Wonderful.
Thus it was just the other day, when Candy, Harvey and I stood on the riverbank at the bottom of the park, looking at the crystal waters before us. Harvey was distracted by some interesting leaves and Candy and I moved closer to the water, noticing that it did not seem to be flowing past as usual.
"Look, Jasper," remarked Candy, "The river is frozen from the bank almost to the middle!" And, sure enough, the river had frozen over, apart from a small channel in the middle, which continued to race on by.
"Watch this Candy," I said, stretching out a front paw, "This is really cool." (Hmmm... almost literally...). I tapped on the ice, but it failed to crack. I tapped harder - still the ice did not yield.
"What am I supposed to be watching?" asked the bemused Candy. I explained about cracking the ice puddles. "Well, perhaps the ice is thicker here?" suggested the ever-practical Candy. "Try it again." Tentatively I put my right front paw fully on the ice and transferred my strength to the arm. STILL the ice did not crack. Candy and I exchanged a nervous laugh.
"I'm going to try something else now." I said, and (somewhat nervously) I stepped fully off the riverbank and stood fully on the ice! It supported my weight, and still did not crack. I hadn't seen fun like this since the last Christmas I spent of Dartmoor, a few years ago, and where I had enjoyed skating on large expanses of solid ice. I gave a little jump and Candy squealed with delight and amusement.
"You're standing ON the river, Jasper!" she giggled.
Attracted by our laughter, he barrelled in and said
"What are we laughing at?"
"Jasper's walking on frozen water." replied Candy.
"Wow! Great idea, Jazz!" yipped the little brown Staffie, and before I could shout
"NO!! Harvey!!!", he had leaped onto the ice beside me, laughing, slipping about and jumping up and down madly.
At that point, the ice cracked.
Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers fell into the now-unsheathed water with one, united scream.
The shock of the sudden plunge into freezing cold water had a most alarming effect on my own, beloved, Little Jasper (my mighty willie). With this unexpected immersion in the icy river, Little Jasper retreated back into my body with such force that he nearly became lodged in my throat. I squeaked as I surfaced and began to paddle hastily for the bank.
"Harvey, you total p*nis." I spluttered as Candy helped me out of the water before we both turned and hauled out Harvey.
"Sorry Jazz," he wheezed, as we both sat on the bank, trying to catch our breath. Candy, I noticed, was doing a very poor job of trying to hide her laughter.
"You two had better do some running to warm up." she advised, her bark cracking with sniggers.
"Harvey, go and get your football now." I growled. Harvey immediately trotted off to find his partner and Candy and I began to walk more slowly in his dripping wake, back to the park for a vigorous game of footie.
"Are you OK, Jasper?" asked Candy, more seriously this time.
"I'll live." I replied, my voice slowly regaining some of its gravelly masculinity.
"You were a bit quiet before you fell in the water."
"Yeah..." and I let out a long sigh.
"Come on," said Candy, kindly, with a small lick of my snout and a wag of her tail. "What's up?"
I sighed again.
"Well, to be honest, Candy," I said, "I'm really worried about Christmas."
"Yes. I'm so paranoid that I might slip up and actually mention your name and the names of all my other girlfriends to my wife Isolde - urk!" WHAT HAD I DONE?!!
Oh ball-bags. Why, Jasper, WHY? OK, I'm dead. I looked meekly at Candy out of the corner of my eye. I'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdeadI'mdea-
Candy regarded me through narrowed eyes, with her head on one side, for a moment and then burst out laughing.
"Oh, Jasper!" she barked, "You're so FUNNY! You're a naughty little pickle, to be always trying to wind me up like that! Oh look, here comes Harvey with his football!" And she bounded happily up to him and playfully tried to wrestle the ball from him.
I appear to be not dead. A lucky escape.
But now, dear reader, do you see why I am concerned about Christmas? Isolde is not so easily hoodwinked as sweet Candy. But I have bought my dear wife a handsome present and I hope and trust that it will distract her from any indiscretions that might inadvertently tumble from my lips. We travel to Hereford on the morrow. I shall provide a full analysis upon my return.
In the meantime, I wish you all a very, VERY happy Christmas and a healthy and enjoyable New Year. I hope that Santa Paws is good to you this year.
God bless, (Is that sleigh bells I can hear...?) and good night.