Through the Woods and Back

Greg and Kanti were out for their requisite tromp through the woods this week and they ran into a lady who is house and dog sitting for the neighbors who have fled to Mexico.  Yes there is a relationship here to last week's post.  Your feedback on being Left Behind and tips on surviving the Alberta winter ranged from get out of Dodge, to take up hot yoga and imagine you are somewhere else, to just do it - as in survive it!  Well, the neighbors seized the first idea and fled town leaving their home and Boots in the care of a lady.  Boots is a dog or as Greg calls him a couch-potato.

Running into the house-sitter in the woods led to some interesting discussion.  You are not going to believe this story.  The lady and her husband are just beginning to build a new home in the country, and guess what they are living in?  Their trailer.  Second question.  How long are they planning to have this building process take?  Three years.  Third question.  How are they staying warm through the winter?  Well, they have completely enclosed the trailer in bales all the way up to the roof and they have built a little lean-to onto the trailer with a wood stove in it.  Final question.  How far along is the construction? They are just digging the hole for the basement.  Well, all I could think was thank God I married Greg and didn't get hooked up with whatever man she had found or someone like him.

Isn't it utterly amazing what one learns on a walk through the woods?  Compare with me, our house building adventure.  We lived in the fifth wheel trailer for ten months, and I limited my husband's crazy piling of bales to the skirting around the trailer and still fretted about the fire and mouse risks.  My guess is that we might run into that house-sitter again a year from now running through the woods screaming totally deranged because she is realizing the three year plan will actually take five years.

Anyway, back to the neighbors having fled to Mexico which meant that Boots was left behind.  Boots truly does not like Kanti.  Not in a mean, I want to fight way, but in a please make that energizer bunny go away I do not want to play way.  In fact, I never want to play, ever.  So, when they meet on the trail Greg makes sure to have Kanti on a leash because poor Boots just curls up in a ball when he sees her coming and we don't want to terrorize Boots through too much playing.  Having a dog is a little like having a child in that you tend to discuss and compare the behaviors of your dog and the neighbors.  This is not done with malicious intent it is our way of trying to make sense of what we see and experience in the world around us.

So, meeting Boots and the house-sitter on the trail led to this conversation afterward in our kitchen.

I asked Greg, "How is Boots?"

"Oh, he is Boots."

Sensing Greg's disdain, I suggested, "Well, he is getting old so I guess he is just slowing down."

To which Greg replied, "I think Boots was born old."

Now that's a put-down.  This people conversation was followed later in the evening by these exchanges between with Kanti and Greg, or Greg and I.

"Oh Kanti, you are so beautiful.  I'd never have imagined you'd be so much fun when we first brought you home."  And I sat on my stool at the counter, willing myself to remember these lines for your entertainment.

As we watched TV later in the evening, Kanti jumped up and was standing looking at us as if to say, "Let's play."

Greg studied her for a few seconds, then said, "Kanti, you look really silly with your ear flopping like that.  Make it stand up straight."  And, I sat on my chair wondering how Kanti interpreted that in her doggie head and filing the sound bite for your pleasure.

The best exchange was this one.  "Kanti, are you getting grey whiskers?  Joy, I think she's getting grey.  Is she getting grey?"  Greg asks because he has color blindness so it makes sense to check but there is an underlying panic to the questions.

"Yes, I think they are greying.  Remember she's going to be three years old this spring."  Sometimes I am actually capable of sounding like the voice of reason!

Greg looks at me, "She can't get old."  Then his gaze turns to the dog, "Kanti, you can't get old.  I will be so sad."  Suddenly the words stop while he absorbs that yes, Kanti is aging and it is not really the old part that worries him but the thought of life without Kanti.    Meanwhile I watch from the other side of the kitchen island wondering if he ever looks at me and says to himself, "Joy, are you getting wrinkles?  You can't get old, I will be so sad."

And at that moment I am thankful for our house-building adventure, for the Alberta winter that tests our mettle, and for the kind-hearted gentle man I am housebound with for what looks to be a long winter.