The sky is full of mares tail. I, myself, feel wispy and suspended, delicate and threaded with gold light. I am settled, for a moment, beside a dead ponderosa pine — bark stripped from thick tree trunk by the high waters of spring snow melt. Some things can be so bare and beautiful in death. It’s a perfect summer day. It’s hard to believe how perfect the day is, actually. It’s not too hot. It’s sunny. There’s a touch of a breeze that hits me full in the face and sends my long hair streaming when I come around every other bend in the river. I feel lucky to have my youth, lucky to be in a boat today, lucky to be fishing, lucky to have Tater Tot with me. I am lucky to be free. I am alive. It is glorious.
Tater Tot runs alongside on the river shore chasing killdeer. Hops in the water, from time to time, to swim the white water. He’s so intrepid, perhaps to the point of idiocy. I love to adventure with him. Every now and again he hops in the river and races my kayak, barking frantically at me if he falls behind. It’s like racing a five year old kid. It’s worth everything to me to let him surge ahead and win while I pretend to go as fast as I can. The look on his pink tongued face is enough to melt my heart. I love my dogs. They are such true friends.
Running the river is such a balm to the soul. There are patches of white water I navigate without a lost heartbeat. I grew up running rivers and paddling lakes, the Methow River is all second nature to me. Water is second nature to me. I dip my paddle blades and pull. On calm stretches, I cast a dry fly into tranquil waters and drift with my line out, waiting for a fish to take interest. Tater streaks through sunlight. A killdeer cries out. There is an osprey. There is a murder of crows. I find a deer skull hung up on a nest of drift wood. I take it with me, strap it down on the hood of my kayak. I can feel the sun on my skin, warming me, browning me, making me beautiful and blond. The haystacks slosh over the edges of my boat, onto my lap, wet my cut-off jeans and belt buckle, dampen my shirt sleeves. The wind catches my earrings and they spin and dazzle as the bangles on my right wrist clatter and chime.
It’s a regular weekend, but it has seemed long. Robert is home. It is so good to have him.
Farley, our white German shorthaired pointer, was mostly dead on Friday. I know! What a shocking thing to report. I just brought him home from the vet clinic where he stayed over night, plugged into an IV. On Saturday morning, after the vet shared blood work results with us, we were told Farley would die. Rob jumped in the truck with that dog, that nine year old bag of sick and jutting bones, drove him to the clinic in Winthrop, and told the vet to do whatever he could do to help him. On Saturday evening the vet phoned us and told us he was conservatively optimistic that Farley might survive. I felt myself balloon with hope. Whatever that dog managed to eat was so toxic that it actually paralyzed his stomach and intestines — he was poisoned. His gut was so offended it went into lock down, literally, the muscles frozen in place and unworking. There’s a special phrase for it that I cannot recall now. I guess it’s a rare situation. He did not eat (or really drink) for the better part of four days. He lost nearly 10 pounds of weight, silently and swiftly, now weighing in at about 38 pounds. He’s a wisp of his usual self and for a few days all his dazzle and shine was gone. I stayed awake all night long on Friday when he was at his very worst playing nurse to him and force feeding him a crazy concoction of wet dog food, raw honey, crushed salt, warm water and organic apple cider vinegar (it was what I had at the cabin). I don’t know if it made a difference but he was alive Saturday morning and I had to do something! I was watching him fade away! Friday night I truly believed he was lost to us. His eyes had that terrible dullness that eyes get before a living thing slips into unconsciousness and then slips further into the quiet cold of death.
I’ve had two of my dogs die in my arms, slowly slide away from me while their bodies, absent of spirit, grew heavy and lifeless. I tried my best for both those dogs, and for Farley this weekend, and finally I have something beloved that has survived.
I’m pretty thankful to have the Farlinator back again. You should see him. The difference between now and Friday is drastic. He has his spunk back. His eyes are twinkling. He wants to run around and pee on everything. I told you. Spunky and making up for lost time. I love him, he’s one of my very good best friends. I’m glad it wasn’t his time. Not yet.
‘Atta boy, Farley!
So that’s that. I’m glad we all survived the weekend here. What a relief. It’s Sunday and it feels peaceful, the chipmunks are cackling in the trees, the grasshoppers are clattering their way through sunbeams, I’m thinking of taking Tater Tot down to the river again for a long afternoon paddle, just to chill the heck out and give my soul a little more rest before I tackle the work week.
I hope you are finding a little sabbath, a little rest for your souls, on this very fine August day.
I have been canning like a maniac here, did I tell you that yet? It’s true. I’ve been canning with a single burner on an electric hot plate at the LCITW. I have a few of my favorite recipes to share with you later this week. Everything is coming out ace. I’m delighted. It is going to be a tasty winter.