Storm Tree Stump

A few of my long time pals know my hard drive died, no back up.  I was able to recover a few of my old blogs in rough draft from another web site.  I will be re-posting them newly edited here.

Storm Tree Stump

The Little Bear quickly went from a joyful fact, to a happy necessity.  The 35 pound corgi / heeler mix had become my quiet shadow.  A new brain function had awakened.  I knew where he was, what he was doing, and what he might need. No matter how preoccupied I was with company, or the Quiche burning in my tipi sized easy bake, I knew his status.  It was scary at first.  Do all new care givers suddenly acquire this super power?   When I couldn’t find him, I learned to turn around.  He would be there, with his nose almost touching my calf.
I had thought him a little odd at first, with legs perhaps, stunted and body long.  Six months later he had become THE standard of canine beauty.  His fur had grown soft and shiny, the perfect black and tan.  His posture was perky, healthy and so…. Right.  He was the Greek ideal of dog perfection.  I put pictures in my wallet.

He was so bright, obedient, and — well…. quirky.  We were a match.  The good life, (and dog school) had softened his feral nature…… Except when it came to rodents.  I had a working dog, a partner in our garden.

I had created a drought tolerant garden around my Tipi, an intermittent horseshoe of rock gardens, filled with succulents, sedum, cactus, and flowering natives.

Shaded dog beds had been worked into this desert paradise.  I would pace the garden some afternoons, with a beer in my hand and an old screwdriver in my hip pocket to rout out  tumbleweed seedlings or misplaced volunteer cactus.  My Little Bear would pace behind me and settle in while I worked.  When I continued my patrol, he would sigh, get up, and follow to the next stop.  This became our routine.  I soon took for granted that my new child had a need to keep me near.

One afternoon I noticed a sudden darkening chill, and looked up to see raven-swirl clouds pouring over the mountains to the North.  I could see the wall of water below them.  It was coming quickly.  We were in for one of our spectacular desert deluges.  It was time to run for the covered “porch” swing on the hill and revel in the grandeur of a desert  storm.  The Little Bear would jump on the swing with me and I would let him come inside my flannel shirt to hide his eyes.  Together, I would watch our hillside run with water and hold him.  But where was he?  I called.  I called again.  I heard a distant painful squealing.

Suppressing useless panic, I followed the pained cry.  He sounded in great distress.  I was close and knew it, but where was my dog?  The first few drops started.  I scanned and rescanned the ground.  And eventually thought to look the one place I had not… UP.  There, in the crown of an 18 foot tall Pinon tree, his little fox face and erect ears floated above the dusty branches.  I rushed into center of the old gnarled tree and peered upward.  No pain here.  His piglet imitation was frustration.   He had cornered a squirrel.  He had climbed as far on the branch as his weight would allow and on it’s soft tip, two feet away, cowered a terrified squirrel.  Is it possible for a squirrels face to pale?  I promise you, this one looked ashen.  I felt simultaneous astonishment, relief, horror, and amusement.  Would I need the ladder?  I called him to see what he would do.  He inched back on the branch, came down tree crotch to branch to fork, and like a confident tight rope walker, strolled out on a branch above me.  And Jumped into my waiting arms. The storm was here.  It was time to run for cover.  I set him down, prepared for the dash, and watched him make the jump, to the first large branch and re-scale the tree back to the same branch and his cornered prey.

A minute later a saturated, excited, dripping little black dog jumped on the swing and asked to come inside my shirt.  What the hell, I was soaked already.

The drought has been brutal here in New Mexico.  In 06 most of our Pinions succumbed to the Bark Beetle.  The dead trees quickly fell over and rolled away in the wind like giant tumbleweeds.  Little Bear’s storm tree succumbed.  When we climb that hillside into the now, Juniper only scrub, we pause and Little lifts his leg to salute THE stump in a fitting tribute to one of the memories we share. …………..

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15 Responses to Storm Tree Stump

  1. Robert C. Goble says:

    Little Bear is a hero. 🙂

    • osolynden says:

      Yes, and devastatingly handsome. Not that I am prejudiced. 😉 Never knew a dog who climbed trees before. Don’t know if I ever will again. Thanks for the comment Robert.

  2. Diane Jackson says:

    Lynden, I thoroughly enjoyed your story. You’re a wonderful writer and your story made me love Little even more.

    • osolynden says:

      Hey good lookin! Your compliment is honey on an old man’s biscuit. I will spend the cold months seeing if I can get better at writing? These days it beats the hell out of trying to walk. 😉 Hope you are well sweetness? And warm.

  3. Little Sun says:

    Besos to you and the Bear. I remember this story… It always makes me smile. (I liked it best when you told it in person. But then I’m lucky and get to hear some of these stories in person 😉

    And I remember the tall piñons… Sigh…

    I know one survivor that is over three hundred years old. I once met a piñon who was over 900 years old. I so hope she still stands…

    • osolynden says:

      Living here I see how small the growth is each year on the trees. The big ones must have been ancient. It is so wonderful to have a New Mexico friend who knows these things. Hey! I need to read some books this winter. What was the name of that book you read on your vacation? Would love to try it.

  4. Little Sun says:

    It takes about a hundred-and-eighty years for a piñon to grow a trunk one foot in diameter.

    I read about twenty books on the vacation when the infernal combustion beast broke. What are you in the mood for?

  5. The Lady B says:

    Lynden, you want to read when you are such a story teller yourself? What lovely stories you do tell. It makes me pine for a visit with you and Little Bear and of course our Little Sun!
    Little Sun, I think he may be referring to the detective novel you told us you were reading via emails? How did you put it? Depressing?….lol 😀 Is that the one lynden?

  6. Cary Ryerson says:

    You make us all fall in love……………..all over again Lynden.

  7. How wonderful it is for you to have such an effective guardian against those who would wish to handle our nuts. My Rosie is merciless to voles and gophers that the Golden Gate park gardeners love her and are thankful for her help. I wonder if I can get her a city job here in San Francisco? Hmmmmmm. She already owns a bright yellow safety vest. Her food allergies cost a lot in expensive dog food. She may be old enough to pull her own weight around here.

    • osolynden says:

      😉 Handle our nuts and more. The desert creatures are so thirsty they devour succulents like Hens and Chicks for the water content. I did learn that if there is debris around the eaten plant it is a rabbit as they graze and if the plant is missing it is a squirrel as they snatch and retreat. I find such things interesting.

      As to your beautiful Rosie… Glad to hear she has the instinct. Little Bear had a parasite when he arrived and we fixed that, but damage had been done and his colon has scar tissue. He is a delicate tummy dog. Check with your vet, but he eats rice with chopped vegetables with shredded chicken mixed in. Not as pricey as it sounds.

  8. A dog that climbs trees AND protects our nuts – reminds me of this enormous fish I caught last week…

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