Fayston, Vermont (May 16, 2021) Although not yet coming out in tufts, my dogs Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus have begun their seasonal coat shedding. Like me swapping out the heavy down coat for a lighter one, then the puffy vest, then trading that for a sweatshirt for our morning walk as spring temperatures (finally) warm, the dogs blow coat progressively. They begin to shed on their backside first, then up to the neck, then clumps and tufts everywhere. I use a “furminator” brush to remove their winter undercoat. Linus’ expelled short blonde hair sticks to everything, and I take care to dress for work in my dark suit only moments before I leave the house, pulling the belt of my trench coat tight against airborne dog glitter.
Charlie and Lucy are extra fluffy right now. Along with their winter hair, these two need to shed a couple of pounds gained from not as much exercise and an abundance of cookies during the winter months. We took our morning walk, and often an evening walk (totaling three to four miles a day) but still the cookies won. Soon, my work schedule will change and we can all play outside together more often. I don’t know that I gained any weight, but I definitely feel that my fitness level has dropped from sitting at a desk all day. So, another layer will be shed.
A couple of days ago, I shed one more thing: My mask. Our governor in Vermont lifted the mask wearing protocol for fully vaccinated people, following the newest CDC guidelines. I still carry a mask in my pocket. To be walking around without wearing a coat or a mask makes me feel lighter, yet exposed. I’m not worried about germs as I still keep my distance from others, but every wrinkle and spot on my face are now outed. I can’t wait to have bangs cut back into my hair so at least I’ll have some hair curtains to hide behind. My mask-less reentry into the world will be progressive like the dogs’ shedding – a little bit at first, then a bit more, until, eventually, I’ll feel comfortable hugging again. Well, maybe. I’ve never been much of a hugger. But, I’ll shed my social anxiety in increments of puffy layers as I blink in the warm sunshine, out for a walk with my less fluffy companions.