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The Blessings of a Snowstorm

by | Jan 11, 2017


The day of the snow and the day we lost our sweet brown-eyed girl, Babs.

Here in our little southeastern corner of Virginia, we don’t often get what we call “big snow.” Anything over an inch just about immobilizes us.  So, the twelve inches we received this past Saturday really put the whammy on us. But in spite of it all, I am ever so grateful for it and must confess that it may have been sent just for me.

When the snow talk started early last week I paid close attention because I had travel plans for the weekend. It was my once a year pilgrimage to a friend’s home in northern Virginia to meet two other friends and spend the weekend in total friend visiting bliss. And on the garden side of the coin, they were calling for temperatures in the teens–what about my Cool Flowers garden planted out in the field?

My connection with these gals is golden retrievers. Our paths crossed over 30 years ago in our pursuit of the sport of dogs–shows, obedience, hunting test, puppies, and the general crazy love of this breed. Not sure how I was so fortunate to have hooked up with this crowd. A hot shot AKC judge and breed expert that has so many titles on dogs–all trained and handled by her, another hunting-field trialer-obedience extraordinaire, and a seasoned Goldie fancier that went on to become a veterinarian, And then there was me–their tag-along southern girl token. Somehow our friendship has bridged all the gaps and has stuck ever since.

As the weekend drew closer I’m monitoring the weather closely and wondering if I was going to be able to go. My sister, Suzanne on the other hand was forecasting a blizzard for us in light of the fact I had just signed a new book contract. You see, in years past it was deep snow and low temperatures that kept me housebound to complete book projects.  So, she was calling for another blizzard.

20161212_152234 20170106_210213Late Thursday evening as deep snow was being called for I made the snap decision–after dark– to pull the floating row covers off the hoops in the garden because they would surely collapse under so much snow. I bid them all well and hoped I’d see them on the flip side of the storm.

As the Friday morning dawned that I was suppose to travel, the weather forecast became crystal clear. It was bad news for me and our friend south of me in North Carolina. We both had the same concern–how would we ever get home on Sunday with temperatures preventing the snow from melting? We regrettable made the decision to call off girls weekend. A date that had been planned for a year that would not be easily –if at all –rescheduled because of such demanding schedules.

I settled in for a weekend of knocking out the first draft of the outline for my new book. Then we woke up Saturday morning. I knew instantly that something was drastically wrong. It was 7:15am and Babs was not at my bedside patiently waiting for breakfast. I jumped from the bed asking Steve to get dress– She was on the floor of our bedroom lying upright but not wanting to move. There was a blizzard going on outdoors. How, where would we get her help?

Steve started the car and I called Dr. Huddleston, Bab’s vet and my before farming employer and good friend–head to the emergency hospital and then call him he said. It was a grueling ride but Steve got us there. On the physical exam there was no smoking guns. They wanted us to leave her for monitoring and testing. I did not want to do this, but knew it was best for her to be with them, not me.


Babs waiting on Steve always…

I knew when the phone rang only an hour after leaving her that it was not going to be good. The abdomen x ray revealed her stomach was full of fluid. A tap of the abdomen showed it was blood. I have walked this road with other goldens in the past– a tumor perhaps on the spleen or liver was leaking, ruptured or both. With other underlying health challenges Babs was facing in recent months we knew an exploratory surgery was beyond what her body could sustain. My only regret, I didn’t hold her in my arms as she went to sleep. We could not make it back to the EVC because it was snowing and blowing even more. The dear Dr. Banks at the EVC assured me she would take care of her. Babs sweet love of the one she is with, brought me more comfort right then, than ever before.

So, why was the snow a blessing you might be asking? First and foremost it kept me from traveling. I cannot even imagine how horrible it would have gone if Steve had faced this home alone. Second, the volume of snow and the low temperatures closed our city down, for 3 days at least. This trapped Steve and I home alone to digest what had happen together, we were not expected to work and couldn’t go anywhere. It’s not often that this happens for us–the snow was a blessing beyond what I could have imagined.


The garden coming out of 12″ of snow and low teen temperature nights.

For my garden? The blessing of that layer of snow protected my Cool Flowers plantings out in the field. They are beginning to reveal themselves today as the snow melts. Another blessing for sure.

Steve and I feel privileged to have had Babs for 9-½ years. She was undoubtedly the most wonderful dog we have ever owned. She was as near perfect as any dog could be. I have had some great dogs in the past, but each one also had a little idiosyncrasy that you had to look the other way on. Not Babs. There doesn’t seem to have been a price we had to pay for such a wonderful sweet brown-eyed girl.


Babs when she was 8 months old.

We thank you for all the notes, calls, texts, and Facebook comments on Babs page –we know you loved her too and that helps us more than anything.

Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at [email protected] , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website .

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