Well regardless of what the calendar says this is winter. Single digits, ground frozen solid, 2 feet of snow down. It’s supposed to go to 60 degrees tomorrow so I guess it will all turn to slop but for now the Ice Queen reigns. The fireplace has been cooking away for a couple of weeks now and the wood, we stored four cords, we thought we’d consume in late January we’re into now. So much for the Miniter family energy policy. The grandchildren love the fire, they troop in, shed coats and flop down on the floor in front of the fireplace where they struggle with the dog for the best spot. He knows all their little tricks though and pays dead, all one hundred four pounds of Golden Retriever who’s been wrestling, racing, swimming, ball chasing and skirmishing with these exact same kids ever since he came to us as a bouncing ten pound ball of exuberant white fur and blacker than black little nose, nine years ago. Which I guess in dog years is starting to make him an old man. But I don’t want to think about that. The children have wonderful parents and absolutely top drawer grandparents if I say so myself, but that dog’s happily done a big chunk of the job of raising those kids into the loving, caring, hell-raising and handsome young people they are and so he’s entitled to a good spot in front. And they know it and don’t push him far at all, just enough to get in there and lay their head on his shoulder. Then they get their place and the dog opens his eyes and craning his neck counts heads. “Are we all here? Good, then let’s take a nap” he drops his head and groans happily, the kids sigh and I scrunch back in my comfortable chair and close my eyes.