On a strangely warm morning in January, Pepper and Daisy and I puttered around the yard before the torrential rains came.

The hairy bittercress had sent up its small, sturdy, white-flowering stalks in various locations. 

The tiny blue blossoms of Birdeye speedwell had opened in the rock garden.

“Look at the pretty weeds of January!” I said to the girls. 

“Why are they called weeds, not flowers?” Daisy asked, all innocence and eagerness. It’s her first midwinter in the world. 

“That is one of the eternal questions,” I replied. “We can call them flowers, if you like,” I added.

“But they are weeds,” Pepper noted.

“Yes, they are weeds,” I agreed.

“I love the little flowers!” Daisy exclaimed. 

“And I do too,” I said, as she scampered to the purple pansies in their container. Pepper stayed behind, sighing.

“Is she really here to stay?” she asked, with a sideways glance at Daisy. “If so, I have a few questions as well, namely:

Why does she behead the pansies?

Why does she scatter the cardinals?

Photo by Jack Barnwell

Why does she put your slipper in the window? 

And why does she chase the leaf caught by the wind?”

“Ahhh, more eternal questions, Pepper,” I replied. “She is figuring out the world. She is figuring out her own strength – her own talents – her own interests. Sometimes, maybe, she is doing things simply because she can. Why do you think she grooms the inside of your ears, and licks your nose and face, and falls asleep cuddled up to you when you let her? 

Pepper softened and smiled. “Because she’s a very smart puppy.”

“Should we keep her?” I asked. “I think she’d like to stay.”

“I’ll get back to you on that,” Pep responded, dashing off to run with her friend Hotch along the fence line while I pulled Daisy away from murdering the pansies.


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