verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mercy Freaks

Mercy gets a gold medal for running off-lead through the woods.  She stays fairly close and comes most of the time she's called. She wears a cowbell to warn others of her approach and to let me know if she's still in the same zip code. For walking with a leash, however, she gets maybe an honorable mention at best.  I decided it was time to rein her in and teach her some leash manners.  Typically she spends our leash walks bulldozing forward, all fours scooping, no, gouging into the pavement while she gasps and chokes, attempting to lengthen her neck and my arm by 12 or 14 inches.  I spend the time being dragged all around and making spitting sounds (I thought she would be intimidated by them....but, no...).  I decided to switch us over to the Gentle Leader which is designed to prevent dogs from pulling on the leash and to help wimpy owners take command.  Here's how it went:

Refusing to walk

Pretending she doesn't know, see, or hear me....

Attempting to chew her way to freedom....

Eventually, she caved in and began to walk like a very nice dog.  We seem to have the problem licked.  Now if only I could take the thing off and get her to wear it....

Passing North

Columbia, NH

We hit the road yesterday.  I didn't know the definition of north until we started driving.  I used to think Concord, NH was pretty far north.  Ha.  Turns out Concord is practically in the tropics.  But it was a fascinating trip.  The plan was to travel to the birthplace of Pam's mother and grandparents, and to see what we would find there.

For me, it was a chance to see the north country and get a glimpse of rural life.  We drove so many miles, winding our way through the mountain passes and between the Notches, rarely passing cars, houses, or pedestrians.  The mountains and valleys were breathtaking, and a little daunting. It takes as long to get out of there as it does to get in! Political activism is alive and well in Northern New Hampshire as we passed many signs protesting the Northern Pass (Kiss My Ass, Live Free or Fry) Project.  I saw my first moose (so he was dead, but it still counts...), and I experienced what seemed to be the edge of the earth at 50 mph on the Dixville Notch State Park Highway. My stomach is still reminding me...

Moose Alley

What I treasured most was the way Pam pointed out childhood landmarks and scenes from her mother's childhood.  It was an important trip, and we found Mary's home and dairy farm, cruised the streets of Colebrook and had a lovely lunch at Howard's, the place where Pam's parents met years ago.  The highlight was the cemetery where Pam's grandparents are buried.  It took only a little hunting before Pam found her family's plot. With a gentle breeze and the scent of lilacs, it was a lovely spot and quiet moment.

The best part of this entire adventure was the conversation that wove its way from mile marker 22 (roughly) to mile marker 874 (yes, an exaggeration) where we practically kissed Canada (but not quite), and back again to mile marker 22.  We spanned everything from Mary's childhood to our own aging bodies and mortality. The day passed quickly and we laughed or sometimes said nothing. In a solitary lifespan found in the solitary northern wilderness, companionship became the highway.  I have an amazing friend. It will always be one of my favorite days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Henry and Pooh

Getting to know you....



Meet my new friends, Henry and Pooh.  Henry is the little guy who runs the show and Pooh is the big guy who does whatever Henry says.  They are both very cautious and nervous so I am slowly building our relationship by stuffing my pockets with treats and being very mindful of my approach and stance.  We've gone from keeping a cautious distance to belly rubs in a matter of days.  Today we crossed another big hurdle when Henry allowed me to take his collar off of him.  Rumor has it that he has a little "freak-out" with the collar routine but today I joined Henry's somewhat exclusive Collar Club when he allowed me to touch it.

I am smitten, of course.  I love meeting these personalities.  No two are alike, and each one is like a mystery novel.  I love cracking the code. Next week's challenge?  Getting Henry to come in the house when the cleaning crew is there....
Speaking of "freak-out", uh, did I mention how Mercy handled her new harness? 
Next blog.

Spring Snow

Artemis and I were in the woods on Friday and as we came around the bend at the beaver pond, it looked like snow had fallen.  It was a very eery and beautiful sight.  The woods never fail to surprise and delight us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Patrick's Rapture Tea

My friend Patrick and I decided to have a little Rapture Watch tea party this morning on his very lovely porch. Patrick answered the door unshaven and in his bare feet--a sort of fitting fashion statement on the seriousness of this whole Rapture Thing.   He casually led me to our Rapture Watch Seats on his (RW) Porch, where we sipped very delicious hot green tea and discussed everything from the merits of being just old enough, to the price of land in Kentucky. To keep things relevant, we would take a quick reading on our Rapture Status and each time, we noted we were both still right there on the porch--alive and well.

After our tea, Patrick took me on a tour of his yard which is magnificently uncomplicated and peaceful.  Here are some postcards from the tour....

from a tiny garden

to the pink earth

to an invitation etched in green.

We ended our tour back on the porch as casually and nonchallantly as it began.  It was a perfect start to the so-called end of the world.  Patrick and I shared a laugh and said goodbye.  As I drove away, I thought about our Rapture Watch.  Indeed, we had found it.  We even took the tour....

Thank you, Patrick!

Mercy's Rapture

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deer One

I was walking with Artemis a few weeks ago.  Biscuit, now too lame to walk, stayed home. We were in the woods at the top of a long steep hill, away from people and other dogs--far from the road and off the trail, and alone.  There was a clearing to the left and we happened on this quiet memorial for Deer.  There was a shriveled apple wedged onto the lip of the vase.

I am struck by the simplicity of this marker--and how it so powerfully defied our solitude.  We were among the millions of untold tales of these quiet old woods.  I didn't need to know this particular tale of Deer--but I was grateful to be made aware that I was sharing this space with many.

Artie and I paused to pay homage.  She was curious about the apple but indifferent about its significance.  Clearly, she was quite at ease there. I suddenly felt a bit awkward.  I felt compelled to pay tribute, but beyond that I was at a loss.  I was oddly embarrassed by my own presence.

We eventually continued on with our walk that day but even now--several weeks later--I think about this spot.  I carry it with me, maybe as a lucky stone.

Rest in peace, Deer.
I like to believe in that idea.
Live in peace, Deer.
I like to hope that they do.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gee, But It's Great to be Back Home....

While I was away at Libby's graduation, Mercy stayed with her friends at Gemini. Her first order of business after getting home was to.... 


and run...

and run...

and...(pant pant)!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear Ellen,

Thinking of you.



...I had been to the store, the gas station, and the post office before I looked down and saw my feet.

Love Triangle

Luke and Cody

It was love at first sight, times two. These two brothers are the kindest gentlemendogs I've met.  Luke (the lighter of the pair) is the handsome explorer-type, while Cody is the big flirt.  We've wasted no time falling deeply in love.

We walk to the field, Luke running slightly ahead while Cody follows just behind my left wrist.  We head into the field and find wild apple trees in bloom, a weathered and tired old barn, and a curly carpet of myrtle creeping through the woods, purple flowers covering the floor.  I look at the boys who are ambling just ahead of me, side by side they walk, touching shoulders, happy and contented.  As we head back through the yard to the house, Cody stops and looks at me as if to comment on our walk.  I imagine his voice is very matterafact, clear, and mature.  Yep, looks like a good day out there, Alice, he says. (I love that he calls me by name.)

Yesterday, like other days before, sirens sounded all through town as rescue cars surged down the street.  As the sirens began, the boys both stopped and turned to face the west, stretching their noses towards the sky while shutting their eyes, and then as if in prayer, they howled....and they howled.  Their mournful cries sent chills through me--it was such a beautiful sound.  I was spellbound by the uniformity of their ritual, and I couldn't interrupt to call them home.  It could have been a funny moment--the silliness of echoing an ambulance--but it's not what happened. Whatever they were doing together came from their ancient past, and I was being pulled into a holy resonance.

They are magnificent beings--such magnificent beings.  I am awestruck (and smitten).  And I can't stop thinking about them.  I might just go out tonight and howl at the moon...maybe they will hear me and send their echo.