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The Bad Bad Dog

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunny but cold, and Shila and I decided to do a noon hike to see what the icicles were up to. Right from the start, the energy was weird; I was preoccupied with Liam, who's been coughing, and Chet, who was misbehaving, and worry clouded my outlook. There was beauty everywhere I looked, but I felt a threat, too. I decided I was worried about an upcoming trip; as nice as it can be to get away, I hate the process of leaving my kids, this home; all the living things that depend on my care. Don't worry; I've been preparing blog entries in advance, and training a very bright little sub-blogger; you'll never know I'm gone...
The first thing that drew my eye was this lovely ice pattern, which morphed into a monster face.

So I took more pictures, and saw a crazed mandrill chewing a rock in the ice.

This elfin forest of moss sporangia was momentarily soothing.
Nothing scary there.
The ice castles were terrific today, thanks to zero-degree nights and continuing runoff from the steep hills. They were more gracile, less ponderous than the last batch, and decidedly dangerous-looking. I cheated death long enough to take this picture.
Shila and I quickly became absorbed in firing at the ice, and we crawled from one formation to another along the cliffside, sliding and slipping and thoroughly muddying ourselves.
Like a child who gets bored when his mom lingers too long in conversation, Chet was looking for trouble. There was something in his eyes today. I shot this picture, and then he vanished.
You guys are all wrapped up in icicles; I'm gonna go raise some hayull. Catcha later.
No amount of calling and whistling with my super-duper acorn-cap dog whistle would bring him back. He had never been gone for so long. Shila and I had a bad feeling that he had gone way down the stream and slipped under the fence to round up some cattle. Darn him!!
So we made our way slowly through the boulder field and slippery slopes, calling and whistling all the way (so much for that bobcat sighting!) to try to recover the prodigal pup. No response, no jingling tags, nothing. I hate yelling in the woods; it's antithetical to everything I stand for, but sometimes I have to yell in the woods. Durn dog!!!
Oh, great. So that's what that feeling of foreboding was all about. I always wonder if I've just taken the last picture of Adventurer Chet, alive... After an eternity of walking, calling, and waiting, Chet finally appeared at the top of the cliff, panting, a little dirty, and wild-eyed. If only he could talk.
Shila and I went on with our expotition in a desultory kind of way, heading for the ice cave with a chastened Chet sticking close by, for once.
We sat down beneath a spectacular icefall, and while we were admiring the leaves,
seemingly coated with that nasty white icing you see on Danish pastries (oh, sorry, Divine Stars of Mohammed),
a chunk of icefall, probably weighing several hundred pounds, suddenly separated from its mooring and thundered down right in front of us. Not a nanosecond of warning; one moment it was hanging, and the next it was shattered all around us. Had either of us been underneath it shooting pictures of moon eggs, well, we'd have been smashed flat.
The gap in the ice teeth was a turret of icicles perhaps two feet across and eight feet long. KRRRAAAASH!
Listen to your premonitions, Zick. The next time you have this feeling of foreboding, just turn around and head home.
So we laughed with relief for awhile and pondered the imponderable and started home. Chet disappeared briefly and came back with a red balloon.
Leave it to Chet to find a red balloon in the woods. He played with it until it popped and as I was coming over to get it away from him he swallowed a two-inch piece of it. I'm telling you, that dog was BAD today. I told myself that it would pass, just like a piece of gristle, or the rubber dinosaur he ate the first afternoon he spent in our house.
We trudged home, talking about this exceedingly weird chain of events. A truck pulled up in the driveway as Shila was preparing to leave. It was our neighbor from down in the holler, the one who owns the cows Chet likes to chase. He'd seen his cattle racing around the pasture, and had been amazed to see this little tiny dog in a blue shirt, as he put it, trying to round up his cattle. When he shouted, Chet had run and leapt into his arms. Not exactly the response he was expecting, but then Chet is not your average stray dog. He held Chet and carried him toward the house, read his tags, figured out where he must belong, and then he and Chet heard my super-duper acorn whistle and Chet leapt out of his arms and tore back up the stream to us. He just drove up to the house to make sure Chet had found us and made it home. He told me he wasn't worried that Chet would harm the cattle, but he was worried that come spring when the cattle had calves, they would no longer be playing when they charged him. I thanked him and apologized profusely on behalf of my bad, bad little dog with the blue shirt.
I am hoping that tomorrow brings wave upon wave of normalcy. I don't want to see any ice turrets, any mysterious woodland balloons, any trucks in the driveway, or the disappearing rump of my dog. I want to take Liam to the doctor, come home and clean the house, that's what I want to do. Urrgggh.

Blogzilla, signing off.**

**Bill calls me Blogzilla now.


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