Out in the Fields with Dogs a Day Before Christmas

The dogs are back. Carrying their mystery and restoring wonder and mystery and quiet joy to the most common of experiences. I like to think it’s where we all belong.

Out in the Fields with the Dogs a Day Before Christmas

Their great white heads take me
deeper into the snow. They lift
their noses into the wind-soaked
air, then push further into the drifts,
finding the lost smells in the roots,
weeds, and matted ground cover. They
know the deer have walked here,
their own heads lifted high into
the morning. I can only imagine
what worlds fill the dogs’ heads,
what takes form from the thousand
smells we can never know, their
dreams made from all these grasses,
mud, scat, and fur. Maybe something
takes the scents and stirs them into
some bewilderment of wolves
walking a ridge. We walk on.
At home, the Christmas tree,
trimmed with strings of tiny lights,
glitter-covered glass, tinsel, angels,
nesting birds, toy drums, and
the withering paper globes we
made when we were children,
stands in a back window. You
are baking kolaces, baking them
the way my father did, rolling
the soft dough over the apricots,
raisins, apples, and poppy seed.
The snow is falling harder. The dogs
look back, then come to my side, sit
and gnaw at the ice frozen to their feet.
This year it will be the two of us,
and the dogs. We’ve been told
the full moon is to be the brightest
it’s been in 90 years. We’ll watch
it out the bedroom window as it
crosses through the trees, low
in the southern sky, the dogs
asleep at the foot of our bed.

–Jack Ridl

from Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)


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14 thoughts on “Out in the Fields with Dogs a Day Before Christmas

  1. As much as I loved those clumbers and love them again and again in this poem, I can’t wait for the new dog-and-Christmas poem featuring that Mutt-and-Jeff pair now hauling you around the neighborhood. From lumbering to your side and gnawing ice on paws to…..? A whole new Vivie-fied vibe!

  2. Hi Jack,

    Love the poem–always am pulled in about anything with dogs and nature.

    Then, I hit the link and watched you and listened to your TED talk. Made me smile, laugh, shake my head “yes” and be glad I took the time to listen.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, including dogs and cat.


    • Judy,
      Please believe that your message is a Christmas gift that fills, lifts, makes
      this ole heart glad, very glad, and very very grateful.

      Merry Christmas to you, such a kind and thoughtful soul

    • Sandy, Oh, I am so so glad that’s how you read the poem. That’s
      what I hoped would happen.
      I hope you and dear Dave will find solace and joy in the
      Grace of Christmas.

  3. Reading this makes me so quiet and peaceful. We will be with you, overseas but with you, reading next to the fireplace with good music in background.

    • Oh Carole, I write this with a tear. To know that what this poem is
      meant to create did just that for you, dear loving you, and at this
      time, breaks and heals my heart.
      We love you so much.

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