Sunday, April 15, 2012

Silly Old Bear: The Many Adventures of WInnie the Pooh

            Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl and Christopher Robin have been my friends since…well, before I can remember. I grew up watching Pooh search for honey and listening to Tigger’s silly laugh. I dare you to watch any episode of film of Winnie the Pooh and not laugh when Tigger does.
            Christopher Robin and co. have long been inspiring the minds of young children to find adventure in their own backyards through their own adventures. When you’re small, even a fenced in yard can be the Hundred Acre Wood, if you imagine it to be. There are always rocks to be looked under and trees to be climbed, not to mention the imaginary adventures that can spur on those activities. It makes the most sense in the world for Disney to do an adaptation of Winnie the Pooh because Walt and Winnie both inspire children to use their imagination.
            For a period of my life I kind of forgot about Winnie the Pooh and friends. Then I began working at Barnes and Noble and a Classic Winnie the Pooh line came out for the children’s section. That’s when I began to fall back in love with the Hundred Acre Wood and the friends who live there. A few months later, ABC Family was playing their annual ’25 Days of Christmas’ movie marathon and what should play? The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, of course. I still don’t see how it’s considered a Christmas movie, but I love it so I’m not complaining. I tuned in during the Heffalumps and Woozles dream sequence, and boy was it clear THAT part was done in the 70’s. It’s definitely weird and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie. But I had missed the beginning, and it wasn’t until this project that I got to see the whole thing in its entirety for the first time in maybe twenty years (how is it that yesterday I was four years old and playing with rollie-pollies in the backyard and today I’m old enough to say things like ‘twenty years ago’ and be accurate? Where did that time go?).
            I do remember watching, and loving, Disney’s television adaption The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The opening sequence with the owl always gave me the heebie-jeebies, though I can’t pinpoint why. Of course, Owl isn’t my favorite character, either. He’s a bit…pompous, but he’s still lovable. I do love Pooh, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. Rabbit is another character I’m not such a huge fan of—he’s a bit, er, high and mighty, perhaps? And a tad mean. Especially when he purposely tries to lose Tigger in the woods. He’s constantly trying to change Tigger, which I don’t care for. Friends love you for who you are, not who they’d prefer you to be. It does teach wonderful lessons, Rabbit getting lost in the woods while trying to lose Tigger.
            Keeping with Disney tradition, the Disney Animation Studio released a new Winnie the Pooh movie last summer, July of 2011. On a chilly, rainy day, a friend and I went to see it. It was marketed with a popular song, but it retained all that is wonderful about Winnie the Pooh: Pooh’s endless quests for honey, Owl’s neverending stories, Eeyore’s melancholy worldview. Best of all, it introduced Winnie the Pooh and co. to a new  generation of children, all the while staying true to the original A.A. Milne tales and putting Disney’s trademark on it simultaneously.
            Ironically enough, A.A. Milne’s son’s name was Christopher Robin, and he wrote these short stories about his son and his toys. A friend of theirs sketched Christopher Robin playing, and that is how our lovable bear was born into the world of literature. The books were hugely popular in Europe and Britain in the 60’s, but not so much in the U.S. yet. So Walt released Winnie the Pooh featurettes throughout the 60’s and early 70’s, then released a compilation of them with a new, final ending in 1977. As always, Walt was right. He brought a love for Winnie the Pooh across the sea, and when the film was released in the 70’s America was already in love with that silly old bear.
            The voice actor for Tigger is the one who came up with that trademark laugh and ‘TTFN—Ta ta for now!’ catchphrase. In an effort to have a little bit of America in the films full of British characters, the beaver was added. This beaver is practically a copy of the one in Lady and the Tramp, right down the same annoying whistle as he speaks. He wasn’t in the books, and even makes a joke by saying so. This quieted any dissent over a new character, as he clearly states himself that he isn’t in the book. Quite clever, if you ask me.

            The ending was one I didn’t recall at all, and it made me quite sad. Christopher Robin essentially tells Pooh bear that he can’t do nothing anymore, and he has to go to school. He basically says he’s growing up now and can’t play anymore. He asks Pooh to never forget him, and to still have adventures. But that made me terribly sad, to see a child say goodbye to their childhood and the things they love. I may have given up playing with toys, but I kept those most valuable to my heart (my Loin King play-set is still in my parents’ garage, awaiting my [future] children, and I still have my favorite stuffed animal from when I was a baby, a puppy wearing pajamas I so aptly named ‘doggy’ or ‘puppy’, depending on my mood). I did give our next door neighbors a dollhouse I dearly loved, but we were moving and it felt silly to take two (I did bring with me a classic wooden one, which I ended up refinishing a few years ago. It is also in my parent’s care, waiting for the day I have children to play with it. I had to leave it in the Lower 48 when we moved to Alaska because moving here was so dang expensive).
            I felt the end of the movie a little too sad, because you don’t have to say goodbye to your childhood. I try to live my life the way a child does, in some ways: I take joy in the simple pleasures, can still get lost in the imaginary world presented to me by a book or movie, and use my imagination to make everything more interesting. There’s nothing wrong with having the heart of a child, or with looking at the world through Disney-framed glasses. It’s much lovelier that way. Try it, you’ll see.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dandelion Seeds: Beauty and the Beast

            Beauty and the Beast is up there with Lion King, Little Mermaid and Aladdin in my childhood favorite movies list. I watched it all the time; heck, I wanted to be Belle. Who wouldn’t? She’s a wonderful heroine. She sacrifices her dreams, her life, in order to save her father. Her actions are led by a kind heart; she’s sweet and gentle. Yet at the same time, she stands up for herself, stays true to her beliefs, and doesn’t let the fact that she’s ‘different’ from anyone else change her. What a wonderful role model.
            Except for the eye color, I’ve always looked most like Belle. Even when I was younger, I had the long brunette hair and big eyes. Granted I’m a bit shorter than I’d imagine her real-life counterpart to be and I have green eyes, but we share more than just some physical attributes. For one thing, I’ve always loved books. Like Belle, I would read as I walked, read to animals (although I didn’t have a picturesque fountain surrounded by sheep, I read to animals of the stuffed variety or my dog and cats, if they’d hold still long enough). I identified the most with Belle, because she saw the world a little differently, and I felt I did too (being a bookworm does that to you).
            With a few exceptional movies, there’s a certain scene that always stays with you. With Lion King, it’s the scene with Mufasa and Simba lying under the stars together. With Little Mermaid, it’s Ariel pushing herself up onto the rock as a mermaid and singing about something starting right then. For me, with Beauty, it isn’t the ballroom scene or the transformation scene. It’s a scene with Belle by herself, running into a field of dandelions and singing, “I want much more than this provincial life/ I want adventure in the great wide somewhere/ I want it more than I can tell/ and for once it might be grand/ to have someone understand/ I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

            It’s not often a movie changes your life, but I can genuinely say that this scene, coupled with Ellie from UP’s saying, “Adventure is out there!” is part of what inspired our move to Alaska. Like Belle, we were seen as a bit odd for packing up and moving 4,000 miles away to a place we’d only visited for a few days, is drastically different from where we were living, and where we had no family, friends or acquaintances. We moved with adventure in our hearts, and we certainly found it. Yet the idea of adventure was placed in our hearts long ago, with scenes such as that one from Beauty and the Beast.
            I was presented with a tough choice this past January: the Broadway adaptation of Beauty was coming to Anchorage at the exact same time the 3-D re-release was hitting theatres. Both were available for only a short time, and happened to be at the same time. Because both were expensive, though the stage edition was much pricier than the 3-D theatrical release, I had to choose just one to experience. I’ve always loved theatre, but I chose the theatrical release because, after all, the Broadway tour has been around for years but this was the first time in ten years it was re-released in theatres (there was an IMAX 2002 release, but I didn’t live near an IMAX and missed it that time. I wasn’t about to wait another ten years to see it in theatres again!). I was glad it was in theatres again for a multitude of reasons, one of which being I love it, so seeing it on the big screen was spectacular (it also means the only 3-D films I’ve seen have been animated). The main reason I was happy to see it in such a way was because it’s now been experienced theatrically by a whole new generation of children.
            Another favored scene is the library sequence. The only diorama model I remember making was in high school for a theatre class, and I staged the library scene from Beauty. I loved the sheer volume of books, the staircases, the huge windows, the fireplace. Heaven, to me, is that library. If I could live in any animated movie scene, it would be the library (with Simba and Mufasa curled up next to me, of course! Oh, don’t be silly—animated lions aren’t dangerous!). There are even two lion statues on either side of the entryway to the library.
            Costume design in animated films is often overlooked, but it’s quite important. I’d love to have Belle’s entire wardrobe (despite the fact I don’t live in old timey provincial France). There’s also a lot of symbology in their costuming. No one in the village but Belle wears the color blue; the Beast is also clothed in blue. Blue is seen as the ‘good’ color, while red symbolizes evil (Gaston and Lefou’s costumes are mostly red).
            The music is the last complete work by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken. Alan Menken I’ve mentioned before in one of my favorite-composer-tangents. He and Howard Ashman also collaborated on Little Mermaid and Howard Ashman contributed some to Aladdin before he passed away, much too early. The dedication of Beauty and the Beast reads,” To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.” I always get misty when I see that dedication.
            Despite the hundreds of viewings, I always cry when the beast dies and then transforms. I can’t help it—despite his temper and getting them cursed, the servants still love him and cry for him. He had developed good qualities, even before meeting Belle.
            My one irk with the film is that we never learn the Beast’s name. She calls him Beast, the servants call him Master, but no one calls him by his pre-enchanted name. Apparently it’s Prince Adam, but he’s never called that. His lack of a name seems to imply the Beast name applies to more than just his looks. But once he redeems himself, we should learn his name. Ah, well. It’s still a magnificent film.
            Gaston is a magnificent villain. He’s manipulative, creepy, and crazy. He also meets with the head of the asylum in the middle of the night, whom I’ve always thought looked scarily close to the Crypt Keeper.
            The opening scene of the film, when you glimpse the castle through the waterfall and the woods, is one of my favorite scenes in Disney animation. The sheer amount of detail, from the deer drinking in the stream to the birds flitting about, makes it feel real. The use of the multi-plane camera, which Walt helped develop in the 1930’s, as well as the use of CGI in the ballroom scene make this film the perfect bridge between the animation past and future. That, in a nutshell, is what Disney does best: connect us to each other, our shared history, and our shared future—much as if we were dandelion seeds dancing in the wind, together yet apart.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Disney Myths Dispelled

I'll start by explaining my absence and then make it up to you by dispelling some popular Disney myths. I've been a little MIA lately because, quite frankly, the sun came back out. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be significant. While the sun does often shine in Alaska during the winter (just for only a few hours each day), it doesn't feel that strong and barely makes the day more bearable. However, now we're hitting 40's for highs each afternoon, and the warm sun coupled with the crisp air means that I am spending much more time outside than I am inside. This means less time watching movies and less time spent on the computer. Additionally, there's a lot of pre-tourist season activities to do with fewer crowds, so we're busy planning those. For instance, a pod of 50 Orca were recently reported by the Alaska Dispatch in Resurrection Bay, a less than 3.5 hour drive from our home. I've already started researching whale watching tours in that area and will be begging my husband to find a way in our budget for us to go on his next weekend off. Fingers crossed our budget will allow for it, nay-- encourage it. Otherwise I may be renting a kayak and venturing into the waters sans tour guide.

Back to Disney. Have you ever noticed when Disney is mentioned, half the room takes up arms against it? Saying it's dirty, there's hidden messages, they twist the stories too much. Well, I'm quite tired of it. So I've researched and read and watched and listened, and this is what I've found. I'll tackle the 3 most popular myths, in the order of their release date.

It has long been speculated that there is a phallic image on the VHS cover of The Little Mermaid and a, er, 'happy' wedding officiant during Eric and Ursula-undercover's wedding. Sadly, both of these are true--but only in the VHS release. Both images were restored to non-phallic-ness before  the DVD release. A disgruntled animator is to blame, though I can't recall if his name is ever mentioned. I would think not, as I at least find that nearly unforgivable.

Aladdin is next. Supposedly, when Aladdin comes to Jasmine's balcony after she declares herself not a prize to be won, he whispers "Take off your clothes". This is false. Think about it: the animators, painters, voice actors and sound technicians would have all colluded to make that work. It's highly unlikely that all of those people could collaborate to pull off a stunt like that and no one would notice. The editors would catch it at least. What was originally scripted and said by the voice actor was directed to Raja, Jasmine's pet tiger. He says, "Nice kitty, take off and go, go on." There isn't anything malicious or said with ill intent to subtly negatively influence children; that's exactly the kind of behavior Walt was against. For the DVD release, this line of dialogue was completely removed. So while the myth about The Little Mermaid may be factual, Aladdin's is not.

When people hear about my deep and unconditional love for all things Lion King, they try to test me by tainting it and suggesting that at one point, s-e-x is spelled out. First I was told it was in the dust immediately after Mufasa's death; then it was when Simba lays down on the ledge and flower seeds go flying in the wind. In actuality, the dust simply settles and there are no letters. The seeds spell out 'S-F-X', the acronym for the department that crafted that CGI sequence in a hand-drawn movie. Because it was disputed and tainted, it was removed for the DVD and Blu-ray release.

So there you have it, two myths dispelled and one explained. So stop trash-talking Disney, people. The people who work there are good people and they don't want to corrupt children, so give them the benefit of the doubt. If you hear any myths about Disney films, remember that it takes a few years to create each film and the amount of people who examine each and every frame is numerable. Getting something past that many people, after it happened with Little Mermaid, will likely never happen again.

Now I'm off to enjoy some sunshine :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Animal Tails: Robin Hood

            I’ve seen a lot of ‘Robin Hood’ adaptations, and this one has always been my favorite. You shouldn’t be surprised; I love animation, so why wouldn’t the animated version be my favorite? A fox as Robin Hood is quite clever, after all. Overall, the film is just darling. It isn’t necessarily a technological achievement, the animation isn’t groundbreaking, yet it’s a lovely film. The dialogue is witty, the scenes evoke a lot of laughter. It’s a simple, fun film.
            The animation is a bit more cleaned up than Aristocats was, giving it a nice, clean look. The characters are all well developed, from the main players to the little rabbit children and church mice. The lovable characters are just wonderful, while you loathe Prince John, Hiss and the Sheriff for being so cruel to them.
            After Walt’s death, the animation studio was concerned they’d be cut. Thankfully Jungle Book saved them, or we wouldn’t have the incredible animated films that came after JB (imagine a world without Ariel, Belle, Jasmine—Simba! What a terrible place it would be!). The animation studio has always had periods of glory (Golden Age, Renaissance) and periods of strife (the strike, Walt’s death). Robin Hood was created and released during a period of strife. Due to financial setbacks, a lot of the animation we see is recycled from other films. For instance, Phil Harris’ character Little John is a brown version of Baloo (also Phil Harris’ character) from Jungle Book. The scene where the merry band are dancing in the forest after the archery contest comes straight from Jungle Book as well—when Baloo is dancing with the orangutans. Recycled or not, the scenes and characters fit right in. If I hadn’t known about these similarities before watching Robin Hood, I wouldn’t have noticed.

    The similarity I did notice was that of the character Hiss to the snake from Jungle Book, Kaa. They have the same shape and coloring, though Hiss is significantly shorter in length than Kaa. But they both do the same eye-hypnosis trick. They look so similar that James asked if it was the same voice actor as well! (It isn't).
I'm not the only one who sees the similarities!

            Kaa and Baloo’s character appearances aren’t the only repeats from Jungle Book. Phil Harris has been in the last three films! First he was Baloo, of course. Then he was Thomas O’Malley the alley cat in Aristocats, and now he’s Little John! I’ll be curious to see if he makes in appearance in the next film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
            There’s not a lot left to say about good ole’ Robin Hood. The rabbit children trio are one of my favorite groups, as they are always doing something funny. I especially laughed when the little birthday-boy rabbit shot an arrow at the same time as Robin did behind him, and thought Robin’s winning shot was his own. And we see how wonderful Robin Hood is when he rescues the baby rabbit, risking his own life to save his. What a hero!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Whole New World: Aladdin

            I’ve loved Aladdin for as long as I can remember. The jokes, the characters, the animation, the actors—all are terrific. Robin Williams? A pet tiger? Yes, please! I’ve even dressed up as Jasmine for two Halloween costumes of my life (once as a child and once as an adult). Beginning back with the Pocahontas chapter, we’ve officially re-entered my childhood and simultaneously the Disney animation Renaissance.
            The Disney animation Renaissance began in the mid to late 1980’s with The Little Mermaid. Ariel and company brought the Disney animation department back to life. These grand Broadway numbers were made even more unbelievable and jaw dropping when done in animation—where there are truly no limits. Talking candlestick? A Jamaican crab? Hamlet in lion-form? Why not?! This ‘renaissance’ or resurgence in the popularity and quality of Disney animation propelled through the mid 1990’s, with Mulan rounding out the Renaissance and a new competitor officially in town and exceling (Pixar animation studios). With the increasing popularity of CGI animation, Disney started using that technology more and more—but on their own terms (see the Tarzan chapter for reference—a new kind of technology called ‘deep canvas’). But alas, we should be back in Agrabah by now.
            Although Genie is typically a favorite character, my favorite characters are Jasmine and Raja. Jasmine is a favorite because she stands up for herself and refuses to become shallow, despite the clearly luxurious lifestyle she’s been accustomed to. Despite not knowing how the real world works, she runs away to it anyway. She’s brave and smart, while also being beautiful and kind. We see her courage and intelligence during Aladdin’s battle with Jafar; she tricks him into thinking she was spellbound into love, allowing Aladdin to progress through the chamber in order to attack Jafar. She keeps the ruse up well too, even saying she loves the ‘gaps in his teeth’. I shudder every time I see that scene, because she is so good and he so evil. He isn’t just greedy; he’s power hungry and willing to kill to get it. We see him not react at all to Gazeem’s death except to mourn the fact that he still doesn’t have the lamp.
            My other favorite character is, of course, Raja. Unlike Abu, Raja isn’t jealous of Jasmine’s affection towards other people or animals. Raja loves Jasmine and protects her, yet also lets her go in order for her to feel free. Plus, Raja’s a tiger. That’s just awesome. I already have a soft spot for tigers, and Raja is such an exceptional one that I particularly have one for her (him? I’m not really sure of Raja’s gender).
I want a pet tiger!

            I like Aladdin, I do. He’s kind, he’s funny, and he’s romantic. He likes Jasmine for more than just her beauty. He isn’t a boring Prince Charming, helping sweep the Princess off her feet by saving her. He’s met her, he empathizes with her, he loves her for who she is—before he finds out she’s royalty. He also lies, even after he’s already been caught lying. So while I like him, I’d much rather watch Jasmine and the Genie. What’s funny, and that I never realized until watching the special features, is that the actor who voices Aladdin is the same actor who played Steve, DJ’s boyfriend, on Full House. I watched a lot of that show growing up, but never equated him with Aladdin. Of course, I can hear it now that I know about it!
            On to the real star of the show, the Genie—of the—Lamp! Robin Williams wasn’t just asked to be the Genie, he was wooed. The animators watched his stand-up comedy act, animated it as though the Genie were doing it, and showed it to him. Of course, how could he say no after that? He really made the movie funny, leaving the directors and producers with over 16 hours of improvised sound recordings related to the film. He also started the trend of famous actors voicing animated characters. I never knew that he was the voice of the merchant at the beginning of the movie until I watched it for this project. I’ve watched the movie hundreds of times throughout my life, yet I never caught that.
            Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice composed the music and lyrics for the film. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are part of the force that spurned the Disney Renaissance, having written that iconic music for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, near the completion of Beauty, Howard Ashman passed away. I still get tears in my eyes when I see the dedication to him at the end of that film. Thankfully for us, he and Alan Menken had already been working on the music for Aladdin, so we still have some of his work. Due to a story shift, some of that work is not in the final cut of Aladdin. Lyricist Tim Rice joined the team after the story shift to add to what Alan and Howard already had.
            “A Whole New World” is, of course, my favorite song. It’s beautiful on its own, but it also involves travel (which I love) and humor (who doesn’t love a laugh) while also allowing the love between the protagonists to grow. Aside from that, it’s the song I find most relatable. Seeing as how I haven’t discovered a genie, stolen anything, or turned villainous, it’s the song I most relate to.
            I’ve always moved around a lot and can say I’ve called four wonderful states home (Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, and Alaska, in chronological order). Due to the contrasting climates of these places, I always felt like I was discovering something new. I feel like this most applies to my current state, Alaska. On every walk or drive, some new amazing thing sparks my interest. Unbelievable mountain vistas, thawing lakes, ducks hanging out on frozen ponds, the reindeer farm, seeing moose in our front yard—all of these are amazing new experiences I feel are unique to Alaska. Alaska is the most different than the other places I’ve lived.
At the Reindeer Farm

            Change isn’t always easy to cope with, and our move to Alaska is the most difficult time I’ve ever had with change. Although I’m ready for spring and we still have snow on the ground, I can say I’ve genuinely enjoyed our time here. I’ll continually enjoy our time here, because it’s rather hard not to. The sheer amount of trees and nature make it difficult to be too unhappy. The sun may set early here during the winter, but it’s often sunny during the days and it makes up for during our 18 hours of daylight time during the summer.
            Ah, summer. So close, yet so far. I, for one, am ready for green grass between my toes, the scent of flowers in bloom, and the feel of the sun on my arms—while I’m outside. Currently I can often feel the sun, but I’m in my car or house or wearing a coat because it’s still rather chilly out (yes, 40’s is officially chilly, 30’s and below is cold. Though when it’s been -10, 20 feels like a heat wave). Aladdin warmed me up, reminding me of heat and warmth (how could a desert not? Well, other than the one scene with snow). Now I’m ready for Alaska to follow suit and melt all this snow away. I think Aladdin, Jasmine and the whole crew would agree with me: we’re ready for summer! (Well, if they lived here. Summer in Agrabah is probably really, really hot.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cat-tacular: The Aristocats

Growing up, I loved The Aristocats. It’s spectacular! I mean, cat-acular, of course. I really can’t put my finger on why I enjoy it so, since neither the animation nor music are extra-special. Mr. O’Malley the alley cat is my favorite, and his first song is also my favorite (where he sings his terrifically long name). Despite multiple listening sessions, I can’t deem why ‘everybody wants to be a cat’, except that they play awesome music.
            I’ll start with the animation. It’s xerography, of course, but of a lesser quality than Jungle Book. As the first film to be released without Walt’s direct supervision, his lack of involvement is most clear in the picture quality. Of course, this is a film that came out in the 70’s and they haven’t issued a re-mastered DVD/Blu-ray yet, so that could have a lot to do with the poor quality factor.
            The characters a cute and make me laugh, especially the kittens. The pair of dogs that live near the hay bales also always make me giggle, because they are rightfully chasing the dreadful, cat-napping butler around. I’m certainly a fan of that! Yes, let’s chase the villain and send him to Timbuktu!
            The villain is an interesting choice, because he’s really just terribly greedy. Other than that, he doesn’t seem to have much villain-ness about him. He’s a little odd looking, yes, but aren’t all Disney villains? Even Scar from The Lion King doesn’t particularly look like any of the other lions. He’s just a little off in every physical aspect.
            Aristocats is good for a laugh or to watch while doing something else (baking, cleaning, etc.), but doesn’t hold attention well. Even mine. I found my mind wondering off, found myself frequently pausing the movie so I could do other things and then come back to it. I enjoy it, certainly, but I’d enjoy it more as something to keep me entertained while I’m doing something else, as well. It’s not like many other animated movies, that you have to pay attention or else you’ll miss something lovely (not necessarily meaning you’ll get lost from the plot, but that you’ll miss some funny dialogue, a hidden Mickey, or a pop culture reference).
            Escaping to spring time in Paris with some adorable and hilarious cats (except the little girl kitten, who is constantly getting herself into trouble. She may as well be Buttercup in Princess Bride, as she gets herself into trouble but rarely gets herself out of it without some gallant male jumping in to save her) was a lovely distraction from this lack of a spring in Alaska. Getting near-record breaking snowfall and just reaching average temperatures means that in early April, we still have two-plus feet of snow in our yard.
            I walked through the back yard with the dogs recently to play with them and sank up to above my knee in the snow. Poor Charlie kept barking at me, as though I were purposely messing up his yard. Or he was worried about me. Either way, I did mess up his yard and now he has to skirt around the edges of the yard in order to come inside due to the gaping holes I left as I tried to wade my way out of the semi-melted abyss that is the back yard. The dogs are still using it to their advantage when playing, but I’ll be glad when it’s all gone. I don’t actually recall what our yard looks like without snow.
            My excitement over spring is also tied to getting to spend time outside. We’ve been for a few walks since it warmed up to more than ten degrees above freezing, but it isn’t enough. When you live in a place that can be so lovely in the summer, you just want it to hurry up and be that time of year. I loved winter, and still do, but only from November to February. After that, I’m ready for spring. But it’s been over a month since the end of February, and spring still seems so very far away.
            At least I have Aladdin next to warm me up.