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. …………..