The subdivision I grew up in was called Salisbury Hills. Our house was located near the bottom of the first hill, which was the best for skateboarding, sledding, and bike tricks. The next hill over was too curvy, and the third one was too steep. I nearly killed myself on that third hill one year on a skateboard. Our hill curved at the top, but then was a nice gradual decline that circled around another broad curve at the bottom. We never had to worry about snowplows or traffic, until evening settled in and dads began returning home for a hot meal and a couple of hours of television.
Two days before Christmas, as the neighborhood kids gathered on our street to enjoy the considerable snow that had accumulated over night, word began to circulate that a dog had gone missing. The dog belonged to a neighbor who lived several streets away, in the newer part of the subdivision. He wasn't known to most of us, except for the fact that he and his wife were an older couple, and they always gave out money rather than candy at Halloween. Now they had lost their beloved poodle, and were offering a cash reward for his return.
Money was always a little short in our neighborhood, so in no time every kid around had joined in the hunt for the little white dog.
I guess it was fun, hunting for that dog, I don't really remember. I do remember worrying about that poor pooch, and being determined to find him. The reward was an enticing incentive, but concern for the dog was what kept me searching after other kids grew tired of the game and went back to their sleds.
As evening approached, I knew my time was running out. I had searched and called for that dog for hours, and the only living creature I had unearthed was a rabbit hiding under an upturned fishing boat in someone's back yard. I was running out of time, and running out of places to look.
Then I glanced up the hill and saw the Old Folks' Home, as we called it. It was a large white house, there before ground was ever broken for the subdivision. It may have been the original farm house before the property was divided up, but now it was old, and housed old people, and no one ever went there.
Something about the house drew my attention. Of course, it was on the far side of Salisbury Road, at the edge of our subdivision, where I wasn't allowed to go because of the traffic. But the longer I looked at that house, the more determined I became that possibly, the dog had wandered that way.
All the other kids had gone in inside to warm up and eat their dinners. I knew my mom was probably getting worried, but I couldn't give up on the dog. What if he froze to death because everyone gave up on him?
I looked both directions and then dashed across the road. Then I ran up the hill to the big white house. The snow was halfway up my boots as I plodded through the drifts surrounding the house, calling to the dog as I searched behind every bush and into window wells. I had circled the entire house when I glanced up and saw a face staring at me through a window. The face disappeared, only to reappear a moment later behind the upper half of a door. I stared back, stamping my feet in the cold that had become more intense now that evening was settling in.
The door opened and a woman leaned out. "Are you okay?" She asked, or something to that effect, I can't recall for sure. I told her I was looking for a lost dog, and wondered allowed if she had seen it. "What kind of dog?" she asked. I told her it was a white poodle. She disappeared for a second, and then returned with a little white ball of fluff in her arms.
I took the ten dollars the man offered me when he dropped me off at my house a short time later. I felt guilty, but only a little, because I had already figured out that the whole thing was a ruse. He had planted the dog at the house, where he knew it would be safe and warm, just so that he could reward a neighborhood kid. It was his way of helping out, without making it obvious. I never let on that I was on to him. The more I thought about it, the more I admired the guy for his cleverness. I made some new friends at the nursing home while waiting for him to come pick up his dog, I got ten dollars for spending the day outside, which I would have done for nothing anyway, and I found the dog.
So there you have it. The end. Thanks for listening. I'd love to hear your winter memories of snow and adventure, if you've got the time to share.