Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making Do

"After a late start, Danny and Lyda had seven children: Will, Royal, Coulter (named Coulter Branch, Danny said, for the stream that ran down off the Coulter ridges), Fount, Reuben, and then ("Finally!" Lyda said) the two girls, Rachel and Rosie. I won't need to make much mention of the children; I name them all together now to give them my blessing. If the world lasts, there are going to be Branches around here for a long time. As the boys grew older, they made do with old cars and old farm equipment as they earlier had made do with old bicycles and outboard motors. This is the way they will survive--by being marginal, using what nobody else wants, doing well the work that nobody else will do. If they aren't destroyed by some scientific solution to all our problems, they will go on though dynasties pass. By this late year of 1986 Danny and Lyda have already got a whole company of grandchildren."

-Wendell Berry, from Jayber Crow

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moon Pie Dog

She came to me in late March of 2002. She was a stray. I had her fixed and got all her shots for her. She's a border collie/husky mix.

She's never been particularly happy here. She didn't much like Block Head. I have a small yard -- plenty big for a big dog, but I, like my mom and dad, hate keeping dogs within fences.

I took her up to Piqua with me for Memorial Day week. We got in late Wednesday night, having driven through the worst thunderstorm ever in my life. She slept through the whole thing in the back seat, using the armrest as a pillow. The storm cleared just soon enough to reveal a gorgeous sunset.

We woke up to the site of 3 deer in the east pasture. She didn't see them. I kept her on the leash while I worked on dismantling the split rail fence. Jess showed up about 2 in the afternoon. He asked why she was on a leash, and I said I wasn't sure what she'd do. He said he thought she'd be fine. So I let her off, and she wandered off. "Don't make a liar out of me, dog," recalling the "too windy to burn" incident.

So she wandered off. And then she wandered back. Wandered off and back again, all afternoon and evening, testing the boundaries.

Let me just say this: That was the happiest I've ever seen that dog, laying in the pasture, taking it all in. Every time I turned around I almost always saw nothing but a buried head and a wagging tail. By the mulberry tree, by the wood pile, by the hydrangea, by the falling down porch. Buried head, wagging tail. My heart nearly burst with the knowledge that she wasn't just content; she was at home, or, rather, she was home. Home, whatever that means anymore. She was happy. Truly happy.

She killed a groundhog Saturday night during A Prairie Home Companion, and paraded it around the whole pasture, staking her claim, while I burned the day's trash under Homer's "rosey-colored fingers of dusk".

Sunday, before we left, we saw 6 deer in that same east pasture; she barked and growled at them through the glass door. "Get off my lawn!", she was saying. Then we went outside to a beautiful windy sunny day. She lay near the burn pile surveying all that was newly hers, content. We're both home. I opened the back door of the car and she begrudgingly hopped up and in. I assured her we'd be back in less than a month. She seemed to know that already.

Turns out she really is a great dog, that Moon Pie.

So, I have Grandma Kading-era running water, i.e., the pump out front, electricity, 11 channels on the TV, a toilet that won't flush, and a dog who's about to realize her Aristotelian "becoming". I'll try not to be far behind. And I think I'm adjusting the permanent move date from May 2011 to October 2010, just for her. She'll love the cold, and I'll love the wood burning stove. There are worse reasons to move than for a dog. I'm even certain my mom and dad would approve. Heck, they might even be proud of me for that alone. They were that way.