I’d read that to expel the bees I would need to dowse their dirt with three treatments of some poison that I don’t want around these parts at this time. These guys just took the hint and took off. I guess they weren't attracted to the smell of my sweat. I don't take it personally.
I was/am very close to many students in this graduating class. Some I met in 2008 in the course I co-taught with Jon Rosales about Thoreau. Others I taught in France. Others came on the study trip to India. Others have walked with Zoe and me many times through the woods on campus. So the good-byes take a bit more time this year. Former students and I linger in the sweltering sun posing for picture after picture, and no one seems to mind the way we all smell.
The best part of the day, though, is what happens after the good-byes: coming home to the house and running through the yard with Zoe down to the river. The best part of going anywhere is coming home to the sight of her. I want to savor every single homecoming because I know that not so long from now, returning to an empty house will be one of the hardest parts of the day.
|vanilla soft serve for dogs: what's not to like?|
At one point Sara has us do a dog down chain. Trust me, it's both the loveliest and funniest thing, ever. One person assumes the position, the next goes into a kind of handstand and rests her feet on the original person’s lower back, and on we go. When we finally have all five of us joined and down doggified in a row, something gives way and I hop off, breaking the chain, taking everybody down with me, and we collapse in a pile of laughter.
And sometimes laughing and crying within the same 90 minutes, along with all that marvelous strengthening and limbering and breathing, is a great workout for the heart. It's all a matter of balance, isn't it?
But then Kerry remembers something. On Sunday, Zoe disappeared for a little while in the woods. This is what happens to Zoe when she eats a dead old maggoty critter: she's very pleased with herself at first after she lands this prize, and she struts around in pride. But then for 48 hours she is like someone hungover after a binge who says never again.
Thoughts of Zoe's nasty foraging habits give me peace of mind today. How's that for a twist? Since when would realizing my dog ate a carcass give me something to ease my worry. I plan to take her to the vet's later this week to test for parasites. Maybe it's not just the new drugs giving her digestive system a shake-down.
But the new drug still scares us, and we don't know what to do to make her eat, or what to give her to help her feel better.
I don't clench anything when the Novocain needle goes in and the drilling starts. Dr. Carvill and his assistant take pictures of my tooth and design it on the computer and it's made and cooked up there while I read O magazine--the one with Oprah on the cover with four puppies. The new crown fits perfectly. I won't have to come back until my cleaning in July. Some problems have easy solutions: isn't that a marvel to behold?
To get competent health care of any kind in this era is not something I ever take for granted. Especially when I’m so uncertain of the path we are taking for Zoe. It's so liberating to lose a fear that once bordered on phobia.
I mean, am I just scraping the barrel here looking for things to be grateful for? No, I don't think so. I honestly think I've changed because of Zoe, my furry guru. I used to set such high standards and conditions for my happiness. If such-and-such happens, I would tell myself, I will be happy. Achievement almost always had to be in the picture. Now I know that yes, it's really nice to accomplish what one sets out to do, but happiness is something else entirely from, say, getting a story published, or taking a trip to a beautiful place that only a depressive couldn't find enjoyable. Yes, those things are wonderful, but happiness, like peace of mind, doesn't have an agenda. It just is.
Then a miracle happens. I vowed this week to try not to spend another night of Zoe's life away from her. A trip I was supposed to take to India for work got postponed. But I didn't think I could do anything about the four nights I'll be teaching creative nonfiction at the Chautauqua writing conference that starts three weeks from now. Then I thought, well, there's no harm in asking. Without having any expectations at all, without the usual tight stomach and anxiety I have when I ask for something out of the ordinary, I wrote the organizers this weekend about what is happening around here and--I couldn't believe it--they got the people who run the conference hotel to let the Z-girl come with my husband and me. I don't think they've ever made an exception, ever. But these women are animal lovers. One was leaving when I wrote her to go to the memorial service her daughter-in-law was holding for her dog. The other was in the process of finding a home for a poodle that had just appeared on her farm. Team Zoe, as they called themselves now, had formed, had moved mountains, and now our girl has an invitation to a lovely conference center on a lake.
If she's well enough to travel in three weeks, of course.
And from there, if all is well, Zoe and I are spending a few nights at a house on Lake Findley with some girlfriends I grew up with in Cleveland, and this is a house whose owners never ever allow pets. My friend Sandy, who runs a hospital wing for at-risk babies, performed this magic. This shows you how much my friend is trusted and revered--that the owner made this exception as a favor to her. And it shows what happens when you (Zoe and me) are surrounded by good people, when the pack of humans is the best it can be.
I will book Zoe to get groomed the day before we leave on this vacation so that she can put her best paw forward.
Noon: I take a break from my work and look down from the deck to this sight of my husband and Zoe snuggled together like this in the yard, just chillin'.
I think the fact that I only took two pictures of these cuties proves that I am capable of some restraint.
3 PM: Is there anything sweeter than watching dogs on a meet-and-greet sniff-fest?
|the turtle was digging a hole to lay her egg|
|Indian Creek Nature Preserve|
|Zoe after a 90-minute walk|