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Kinkade Does Appalachia

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The day started out with a good laugh. Chet is confined behind a baby gate at night so he'll sleep in his own very cushy doggie bed. We do this for various reasons; at first it was to make sure he didn't get obnoxious about insisting on invading guests' beds; then it was because if he is going to hurl, he always does it in bed; and now it's for all those reasons, with the additional factor that he farts all night. Released in the morning, though, he makes a beeline for the nearest warm bed, and his job is to awaken Phoebe with a smile. It is very hard to extract a warm Boston from deep cover. He spent the entire day swaddled, emerging twice to go outside and eat. By late afternoon, we were both ready for a hike, rain and thick fog notwithstanding. I couldn't wait to get out. The woods were absolutely silent but for dripping limbs. I put an extra-jingly collar on Chet so I could hear him if we got separated, because the leaves were like sodden Kleenex. Good thing, too. Just past our property line, Chet took off after a squirrel, and, since he couldn't hear my footsteps in the leaves, he didn't know where to find me. I pressed on for a few hundred yards, thinking he'd figure it out in time, but the woods looked spookier with every turn of the trail.I thought about coyotes. I always think about coyotes when I'm out with Chet. So I turned back, and there he was, in the meadow where he'd last seen me, watching for me. Smart guy. Reunited, we forged on through the fog, enjoying the intense, shivery colors, so saturated against the neutral sky.

Finally, we came to the bottom of the Chute, just as dark was coming on. A little log cabin, now covered in asbestos shingles, was lit with a single dim light. I had a Thomas Kinkade moment--if Kinkade painted Appalachian scenes. In this famous schlockartist's heavily trademarked "Twilight Cottages," there's always a glimmering light, and light shimmering on little cobblestone paths and arched stone bridges, drifts of pinkyblue flowers and little babbling brooks. Where I come from, the last light of day skips over tumbling rivulets of Mountain Dew bottles and plastic jugs, which have been thrown out the back door, since that's how Daddy always done it.

Finally, we came up through the orchard, and I saw glimmering lights that do warm my heart. Phoebe's voice came loud and clear over the walkie-talkie we use to keep in touch while I'm on my peregrinations. "Where are the Goldfish, Mommy?" From out in the orchard, I watched her rummaging in the cabinets in the warm orange light of the kitchen. Now that was a Kinkade moment. Next, I want to walk the Loop on a full moon, in the snow. You'll be the first to know if I do.


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