The weather was like me today. Grey and wet and miserable. But I got dressed and I put one foot in front of the other. A man in a blue slicker was walking in the rain. Same as me. He smiled and said, "We're the tough ones." A red poodle I haven't seen all year walked on her back legs to get to me. She dampened my pants with the pads of her paws. She remembered me. "We're late this year," her human said. He was talking about spring. He might as well have been talking about everything. At the end of the walk, the rain eased up and some of the furry friends I thought might be dead came out to say hello. You lose a few, or a dozen, and you start to fear losing them all. That's how it works. But this is the deal I made. When I got home, there was a snail trying to scale my front porch. It hung from the bottom step, so far out of its shell I was surprised the thing was still attached. I lost myself in the swirls of apex and whorl and felt around for my own vestigial shell. All I got were shoulder blades and spun wool. The snail didn't look like it was moving at all. An hour later, it was one step closer to the top. A few hours after that, it was gone. After trying and failing to find the determined gastropod, I stood on the porch and whispered, "You and me. We're the tough ones."