The small dog came to us before we expected to be ready for a pet who required attention. We travel too much, aren't home often enough, didn't want to take on the responsibility. But she was a Dog of Destiny, such as cannot be denied or turned away.
Lilly started slowing down at Christmas. Or anyway, it started to show more when compared with Christmases past: She didn’t jump into the chair with me, she didn’t offer to steal the cat’s or the other dogs’ food. She couldn’t make it all the way around the pond on the after-feast walk. She failed to resist being picked up when I hoisted her the rest of the way back to the house.
There were more bad days, when her arthritis kicked it up a notch, when she slept until noon and woke up only at my insistence that she get outside. She stopped trying to boss the world around, didn’t offer to bark when the doorbell rang. Her toys went unsavaged. She woke me three and four times a night to go outside --- at the same time that her reliable continence grew, um, unreliable. Her appetite faltered, she grew finicky.
Everyone knows how a dog story ends.
To me, Lilly was the best dog in the history of pets. She snored louder than any full-grown man and was so ugly that it was adorable. Full of character and optimism, she was both endlessly forgiving and breathtakingly flatulent. She was an ambassador of small dogdom even in the strange vet’s office as they administered the sedative and then the overdose of anesthetic.
We buried her between two apple trees on the Would-Be farm, on what we’ll call Small Dog Hill. When the double rainbow appeared right afterward, I felt less surprised to see it than simply grateful.
A rainbow. Of course. Easy saccharine sentiment, yes, and lazy theology most likely, but a comfort –– just like Lilly herself.
August turns a corner in the North Country, surprising us with a hint of the autumn coming. I remember this sense of the mutability of the season from my childhood. I'd be out haring around on my horse, and the wind would suddenly have an edge, reminding me that school was going to start soon. A big alarm clock telling me that it was time to brush my hair, get some appropriate clothes, buy fresh notebooks and pens.
This August, we are at the Would-Be Farm, smiting the weeds, checking on the trees, and making improvements to the infrastructure (rain barrels! a gravel pad for parking!). Then came the first autumnal cool front, and suddenly summer seemed to be slipping away.
With the cooler weather, we moved out of the luxury of my sister's house (Hi Sis!) and into Base Camp. I haven't yet installed the solar, so we must get by without the civilization of a fan to blow the mosquitoes around. When the sun goes down, it's all bird noises, frogs, and the faint, mysterious night sounds outside the little tin cottage.
Except for the racket of something large-ish on the deck.
Maybe a cat, maybe a racoon, maybe a skunk or the possiblity of bears –– a pair has been spotted a few ridges over, according to the gossip. The trail cameral shows this series:
We still aren't sure. Is this visitor a raccoon or is it a martin?
We hurried the asparagus crowns into the ground last spring.
A little like John Henry working against the steam-powered drill of time (minus the subtext of exploited labor and so forth) I extended the ditch, flinging stones hither and yon in a frenzy. Thirty or so beautiful crowns of asparagus and only a few hours of daylight to plant them before leaving the Farm.
Fast forward three months into the apex of summer. Mr. Linton and I make our way back to the Would-Be Farm crossing our fingers about all the spring's plantings.
It's all an experiment, this absentee farming thing. So much can go wrong with growing things, even when the farmer keeps a sharp eye open for floods, dry soil, locusts, marauding goats –– never mind what can happen if the farmer dashes off into the sunset for whole chunks of the lunar year.
Well, one of the things that happens is photosynthesis gone wild: waist-high weeds growing everywhere. And I do mean weeds -- not just an unintended plant, but a weed in the pejorative sense. Prickly, stout, thick, and unpleasant things: thistles, nettles, burdock, and bramble bushes.
Cue montage of two solid days of weeding. Slow-mo scenes of repeated cutting, yanking, digging, burning seed-heads, and swearing at the thorns. Then, in a blink:
Now, assuming that time and tide allow, we'll be finishing the planting as originally planned: more mulch and a thick layer of weed barrier fabric weighed down with (what else?) rocks.
Because the rocks are doing great.
About the Blog
A lot of ground gets covered on this blog -- from sailboat racing to book suggestions to plain old piffle.
Trying to keep track? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter or if you use an aggregator, click the RSS option below.
Old school? Sign up for the newsletter and I'll shoot you a short e-mail when there's something new.