Quincy: The relationship.

Looking back on it, I rather suspect that when I signed the animal shelter adoption papers for Quincy the dog on that cold December day in 2017, Quincy would have viewed it more as a “pre-nup” – or a sort of roommate agreement.  From the day we found each other until the day we said goodbye a few weeks ago, Quincy always believed it was all about the relationship.

Perhaps it’s because I live without any other human beings.  Or that Q. and I went through the Covid shut-down together.  Or perhaps because he was already eight years old when we met.  But, to him, that relationship dynamic was one of absolute commitment … and one of absolute equality.  Not long into it, even I had to admit that it had evolved into a bond where we repeatedly experienced embarrassingly human “old-married-couple” syndrome.  A sort of dependent independence. more “Quincy: The relationship.”

When we were barefoot in the woods.

I think I have Egyptian feet.  Although my sister says we’re mostly Scottish.  And Irish.  And she ought to know; she’s the one who took the DNA test.  But my feet certainly look Egyptian to me – according to the old, strange, highly unscientific, theory and drawings developed back in the 1800s to define one’s genealogy and ancestry by foot shape.  So perhaps the top part of me is Scottish, and my feet were just left on their own to seek out a shape that was comfortable, with toes that aligned whichever way they wanted.  

There were actual charts produced back then to example this theory of foot genealogy – with up to a dozen categories of shapes, and hand-sketched examples for comparison.  The first outline on the chart was of an “Egyptian” right foot, and it looks very much like my own.  And yet, farther down the chart, the drawing of the “Celtic” foot looks nothing like mine.  Interestingly, I also found some personal similarities with the “African” foot.  And the “Norwegian.”  And possibly the “Greek.” more “When we were barefoot in the woods.”

Bees in my birdbath.

There was no doubt about it.  The bees were staring at me.  Looking at me straight in the face.  Half a dozen of them at least.  Hovering – as bees do – like tiny fuzzy helicopters.  

They maintained a respectful distance, maybe 10 inches or so away.  Not threatening, but definitely trying to get my attention.  Moving as I moved.  Turning as I turned.  Focused on my face and eyes.  Watching me, telling me … something.

I had just started to fill up an old cement birdbath in my front yard with fresh water. Its current level was low, not much more than a small puddle of leftover rain.  And it took me a minute to even notice:  But there, lined up side-by-side, all along its crusty cement-rough edges, was a neat row of small yellow bees, drinking.  Or at least they were trying to drink.  Until I and my big splashy hose began disrupting everything, stirring things up, flooding the basin, slooshing them over the edge.  

And thus the bees sought out my face … staring at me … communicating with me.  Asking me to notice them, please.  Asking me to pay attention, please.  Asking me to stop and just come into their moment with them, if I would be so kind.   more “Bees in my birdbath.”

Please DO disturb.

Quincy the dog is an avid puddle walker.  He’ll purposely cross a street or double back down a road just to take advantage of every puddle possibility.  He values all sizes and depths, in all seasons and weather, regardless of time of day or temperature.  He splashes and slooshes and glides his feet along their bottoms.  And then he holds his ears straight out from his head and grins up at me for the pure joy of it.  It fills my own heart with a sense of joy just to watch him. 

Not long ago, heavy rains had left behind great pools of fresh invitations for him.  But the spring pollen had thickened the compelling puddles, clouding their surfaces like heavy cream in cold coffee.  And yet Quincy never hesitated to slide through them all the same – perhaps with extra care and lingering.  And with his slow, deliberate steps, the pollen broke apart and altered its sluggish, clinging nature and released its hold on the water.  I watched, with fascination, his subtle yet undeniable impact on the puddle – and it stirred within me random thoughts and suppositions, just as it stirred the pollen within the water.
more “Please DO disturb.”

Consider Jolene.

Jolene likes warm summer rain, being read to under a tree in the shade, old movies, slow dancing, soft dog noses, and good conversation.  Perhaps I ought to tell you that Jolene is a potted plant.  But a potted plant with a definite personality. 

Jolene was a gift to me from a human friend.  It was about a year ago.  The human friend did not know that I have never been very good with raising potted plants.  And Jolene is a succulent.  A plant that confounds me even more than usual.   more “Consider Jolene.”

Dog corners and secondhand bookstores.

“Secondhand books are wild books, homeless books; they have a charm which domesticated volumes lack.” – Virginia Woolf

Wild books, homeless books, charming books … used books are the best sort of books, I think.  I even tend to judge a town or place by the quality of its used book stores.  And this morning, I began to suspect that Quincy the dog may have a similar type of cataloging for local corners and walking paths. more “Dog corners and secondhand bookstores.”

Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.

The boy coming toward me in the grocery store aisle was young – perhaps 11 or maybe 12 years old (I’m not terribly good at guessing these things).  He was close  to my own height (so not tall) and had a certain sense of vulnerability about his face and posture.  He was definitely younger than 14 – that time in life that in legal terms is called “tender aged” – a term I’ve always appreciated for its sensitivity to this gentle, unsure, inexperienced, age of being. more “Being twelve, awkward, tender, and wise.”

This time of hope and faith.

The man was a farmer, deep in rural Indiana.  He was physically strong, perhaps due in no small part to the fact that he still plowed and harvested with a team of horses.  He was equally strong in his religious beliefs – so committed, in fact, that after every fall’s harvest, he gave away his team of horses.  He was that convinced of the imminent second coming of Christ.  He was absolutely sure in his heart that God’s love for the world would be manifested in this real, tangible way, before Christmas, certainly before the end of the year.  When, in the following spring, this miracle had not yet happened, he would dutifully buy a new team of horses, and plow and plant another crop.  more “This time of hope and faith.”

The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.

“God, in his infinite wisdom, created the earth.  Man, in his infinite impatience, has been rearranging it ever since.”

These are the opening words of a video presentation that I wrote for a client more than 40 years ago.  The client was a manufacturer of large earth-moving and construction equipment.  

But suddenly, 40-some years later, the words had jumped up and were poking me in the head again.  I was looking at pictures of hedgerows at the time.  And variations of this theme kept coming to mind. more “The beauty and wisdom of hedgerows.”

Gardening with words.

I always have to stop and consider how to spell the word “spirit.”  There seems to be a conspiracy between the “r” and the “p” and at least one “i” to try and trade places, or want to duplicate themselves far too many times.  But spelling it correctly has become rather important to me just now.  Because I may decide to literally etch it in stone.  Or brick.  Or cement.  Or perhaps wood. more “Gardening with words.”