Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
The red fox loped off the edge of the north old clay pit, then headed toward the brush along the side rail line.
The only reason I spotted it was because of the remnants of snow. Against the white snow, even in the half light of pre-dawn, the red fox was easily seen.
Red foxes are my favorite mammal.
A few times a year, I will see one or two on the morning rambles with the meathead; or just around town.
It always makes my day.
Today, it particularly did.
For decades, I have fought off winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Some winters are better than others.
In bad winters, it settles in by mid-winter and it is just a grind to make it to March. It is just a grind to get the basics of life done.
I've grown smarter as I have aged. I force myself to exercise and spend significant time outside in winter. A friend who is a social worker gave me one of those lamps to use. At first I thought that was just quackery, but I have come to appreciate it.
And you learn to do the basics: get enough sleep and at a regular time, eat well and regularly, have two or three cups of coffee in the morning instead of four or five, and one or two drinks instead of three or four.
You know, balance things out.
I thought this was going to be one of the good winters. Instead, the past 10 days, I have felt like I am slogging through a mud hole.
Everything just goes slower. There's reasons other than just a busy schedule why I have only sporadically posted a Ramble with Storm the past 10 days.
It has been tough to just force myself to do the basics, let alone typing out a Ramble.
Frankly, this morning I was sliding into self-pity and moping, until the red fox loped off.
I walked the ice of the south pit and checked on the ice shanty. The guys pulled it back out over deep water on Sunday. On Saturday, when I spent a couple hours ice fishing, it was still at the boat ramp.
They moved the shanty around a couple times, I assume trying to find the active fish.
A rabbit bolted as Storm and I started on the old rail bed, now a trail. A few steps later, a lone dove fluttered off.
A much more varied morning for wildlife than we have had for weeks.
Back in town, the women were exercising in the storefront gym again this morning.
For some of us who learn to exercise as the years pile up, it is in a group in a gym. For a few others, it is rambling off alone; or with a meathead in tow.
A gray squirrel hopped across the lawn of the guy who spreads corn and seed on his front lawn for the birds and squirrels.
A pair of gray squirrels chided either each other or me and Storm, or maybe a mix of both, in our next-door neighbor's old gnarled elm.
The kind of morning where wildlife is back in the equation of the ramble.
Ever so slightly, my spirits lifted.