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Thursday, February 11, 2010



A glacier grew on the north side of my roof after the last snow. It crept down the roof a little bit a day, a foot or less, until it was hanging over the side of the roof about 6 feet. It was over my path to the mailbox and where I park. I didn't dare touch it, imagining about anything could set it loose like an avalanche. Icicles grew from the bottom of it. As it curled over, it put the icicles at an odd angle, so as they continued to grow they curled downward. As the overhang continued to curl, the icicles curled until they were almost a half circle. Then it dropped at night when neither I nor the dog were under it. In my mind, to have that thing fall on top of me would be about the equivalent of having a dumptruck dump a load of gravel on me. Snow doesn't look heavy, but that much of it has to be at least a ton.

You can see my footprints along the side of the house. It's harder to walk through than the rest of the snow. I use a snow shovel like a cane going to the mailbox and back. Need it too. The state truck came by today scooping last night's snow out of the road, another mess of snow to dig out from in front of the Catfish. It's so ridiculous to be out there trying to stab the ice blocks with a corner of the snow shovel and break it up, but some of it refuses. Martha the dog goes on with the snow like it's summer. She sits out front about all day sitting on the snow, curling up and lying down on it. I want to bring her in the house, but she's such a rambunctious puppy with a tail that tears up as she goes. If she could come in, curl up on a rug and be still, I could handle it. The cats are the problem. They'd hate it. Though it might not hurt to give it a try and let her in for a little while. The cats are acquainted with her through the windows, and TarBaby stood nose to nose with her yesterday and wasn't afraid. It's just that it's a dog. TarBaby backed up and came back in when he'd had enough of smelling the dog's nose.

I may do that. A little bit at first. She's paying attention to me now, so when I say 'Stop It' she does. Right now. She's catching on not to jump on me so much. Saying stop it puts an end to it before she starts. She'll run at me lollygagging, eyes beaming with love, ears flopping, and it's clear as can be she's getting ready to jump. It's automatic in her. I said, 'Unh-unh,' and she twisted around mid jump back to the ground before she got me. When she does that I reach down and touch her. To pet her I have to hold her down with one hand so she can't jump, and pet her and tell her she's a good dog, which she loves, then let her go and it's an explosion of dog to 60mph in 2 seconds, happy out of her mind she's been touched, talked to by giant, the most ecstatic thing that could happen to a dog, or so she lets on.

When I sit in here looking out the window at her outside curled up on the snow and it 15 degrees, and I want to bring her in, but advise myself against it. I tell myself that hanging around outside in the snow and cold waiting for the moment when the giant inside goes out to the mailbox and dog can jump and chase and twist and squirm all she's got in her. It's been weeks she's been doing this. When she looks at me she tells me I'm the love of her life and she can't stay away from me. She'll wait for me in the snow and bitter cold. It's starting to get to me. I'm feeling cold hearted letting her wait out there. At the same time, I'm seeing she's a hardy dog and doesn't seem to be bothered a bit by the cold, except sometimes I see her shiver. I feel like this hardiness she's operating with is worth cultivating to some degree. By this time in my life I've come to believe where strength is concerned, endurance is far more important than how many pounds somebody can pick up. I feel like she's developing some endurance, which I believe will be a benefit to her life.

When I get down to the bottom of my reason for letting her stay out in the cold, it's that I don't want a dog in the house traumatizing the cats. This is their territory and as far as I can tell, since they live here, they have rights. But, mostly, I can't help but think she wants me to be her friendly giant she can protect. I'm one who lets my pets come to me. They find me. I feel like when they come to me, they are meant to be mine. When they come to me, our relationship is always in tune. When I go get a dog, it never works out. It's about obvious as obvious gets that Martha is wanting to be my dog. I've been waiting for one, if one is meant to be. Now I have a dog sitting and lying down in the snow outside my window where she can see me in the house.

My question has been, is taking in a dog the right thing to do? The dog will outlive me is my prime consideration. They feel grief. Like in Cocteau's film, Beauty and the Beast. At the end, the Beast tells Beauty the only way an animal can show its love is to die of grief. Something like that. It's not a perfect quote. But it's true. I have a hard time thinking of leaving my friends by surprise one day and never coming back. Then they're up for whoever is willing to take them in, maybe separating them. I don't like to think about that part of dying. For my own experience, I look forward to it, but have a hard time leaving my friends to die of grief, or never to be happy again.

When TarBaby went nose to nose with Martha at the open door, I was watching, wondering how TarBaby would react. Nothing. They looked at each other. Neither one saw threatening eyes, both of them still as only animals can be. When TarBaby retreated, it was because there was nothing else to do. He was flexed, ready for surprises, but came away from it, I felt, acquainted with Martha. TarBaby had seen her through the window for weeks. Now he has been nose to nose with Martha and saw she has no animosity toward cats, a dog without prejudice. I had the feeling by the Martha's stone still body language that she wanted TarBaby to come out and play, like let's jump straight up and wiggle in the air with the excitement of having a new friend. Her eyes said she wanted to know TarBaby in my way of feeling the moment.

I'm thinking I would like to take her in and maybe as we get to know each other better and she can start reading my mind like my cats do, I could have some conversation with her about the uncertainty of my age, and there'll come a time. Just now heard Wad Mainer in my head singing, There'll come a time some day, when I have gone away, there'll be no papa go guide you from day to day. I actually believe that would help. One other consideration pulls mightily at me that this could be Aster come back, napping in snow nests waiting for me to notice. It's been 6 years since Aster and 6 years between Aster and Sadie before her. That bothers me when I see her out the window or see her wiggling like she's going to break in two at my feet.

I am convincing myself to let her in the house tomorrow. The cats can't leave and go to the barn across the road in this cold and snow. I'll let her in and stay with her, talk to her, keep her with me so she doesn't go running through the place scaring cats into their hiding places. I'll stay with her, maybe sit on the floor and talk to her and calm her down. She is able to calm down, and I believe my attention is all she really wants. I'll give her full attention and let that do the calming. If she settles eventually to where I can trust her to stay in place for awhile, lie down and enjoy the floor that's almost as cold as outside, I'll sit and read for awhile, being still. As long as I'm still, she's ok to be still. As soon as I move she explodes into the air to be my companion. I have a feeling it's a done deal.

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