To my readers: I try to keep this blog a happy place, a place you can go to get away from everyday life. As Chekhov said, "Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out."
But into each life some crisis must fall. I'll tell you now, it all works out OK in the end. But it wasn't any fun, no fun at all when it was happening. It's taken me awhile to arrive at the right spiritual place to post it, so these photos will look lush to you, now that the trees have given up all their leaves. Here it is.
I guess I should write about this now, since it woke me up at 2 AM and keeps replaying in my head.
Yesterday, my friend Dave called and suggested we take the dogs for a hike. He’s got a cattle dog named Cooper and a huge blue Weimeraner named Phoenix.
Though they’re nice, calm dogs, Chet has always acted like a jerk to them. Even the perfect dog has flaws, and Chet's Achilles' heel is his Napoleon complex. I hoped that if they were on neutral ground, things would go better. I want Chet to be able to interact with other dogs without being such a little putz, always posturing, hackles raised, trying to dominate a dog four times his weight and volume. Thing is, the little cuss gets away with it. His bluster usually works. Which would be fine, if he would ever stop blustering. No. He has to prove his superiority over and over. I find myself wishing sweet, timid Phoenix would open up a can of whup-ass once, so Chet will stop all the foolishness. I hate being on tenterhooks, always keeping an eye on my uppity little dog, hoping he doesn’t get himself in trouble with the others.
These thoughts and others in my head, we drove about 22 miles into the Ohio backcountry, and the autumn leaves were blazing, so beautiful, whirling up in a fairy sparkle wake behind Dave’s car as we followed.
One of my favorite barns, for its deep maroon patina.
The church at Dalzell.
The gaily-painted general store and canoe livery along Route 26.
Delicious country curves.
The hiking spot has a big sandstone cave, a sinkhole, really, and a natural bridge, and it sounded like something we all ought to experience. Note the back of Liam's pants. It was very steep, and there's little my kids love more than going down steep slopes on their butts. Ehh, that's why they call them playclothes.
As we passed the first covered bridge on our route, there was a Canada goose, just hit, lying in the road. It was such an odd, odd place for a Canada goose. Its neck was bent in a C, and it was gasping hard, and there were feathers everywhere, and I found myself thinking, “Oh, God, I hope it’s dying, because I don’t want to pick it up and deal with it; I don’t want to have to wring its neck, because that’s a really big bird and it would be hard to do.” These are the things that run through your head when you are compelled to help; when you can't look the other way. Hard to do, both physically and emotionally, to wring a neck like that. We turned in to have a look at the bridge and by the time we got out the goose’s neck was slumped and it was still. I thanked the gods of nature and death that I didn't have to intervene. I just wanted to go for a hike with my kids and my dog today. We drove on.
We parked at the trailhead and the dogs leapt out of the car and, as I’d barely dared hoped, became instant friends on this neutral ground. Chet tried a couple of times to muscle Phoenix and Cooper but there were too many interesting smells and too many miles to race, so he gave up presenting his not-that-impressive profile and brought up the rear as the bigger dogs galumphed up and down the trail.