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The shitshow hits the road again.

Today we went on an outing to our acreage in the country. Now, before you start assuming that we’re of the ‘landed gentry’ set, this is not on a par with the typical ‘cottage’ (translation: 4 bedroom home with AC, gourmet kitchen and pool) or ski chalet. This is 30 acres of bush with a pond that is now owned and operated by local beavers and Canada geese. The arrangement with the critters is that we will show up once or twice a year to picnic, hike through the woods or chop down a Christmas tree. They ‘take care of maintenance’ by gnawing through trees and scaring off intruders. (The one time they slipped in their vigilance, they almost got us arrested for having a marijuana grow-op. Some enterprising locals had hidden a large crop in the back field where nobody could see it. On our summer walk, we came across it by accident. We all looked at each other, thinking, “Is that what I think it is?” The kids were no doubt wondering if they should bring it to my attention, thinking I might not recognize it for what it was. Puleeze…I spent time in Berkeley.) You probably get the picture by now that this property has more of a Duck Dynasty feel to it than a Hamptons vibe. You’d be absolutely correct.

When Gill comes home in the summer, she likes to go and take a look at the property — more to make sure it’s still there than anything. We managed to fit in one trip this summer. She has great memories of childhood outings there — with Grampy dressed in his cowboy hat, grubby clothes, tall rubber boots and rifle at his side. Yes, he was prepared to protect us from the fierce wild critters that might attack…you know, Sasquatch and such. The only problem was that he had the rifle in his hand. The bullets were left safely in the car. He didn’t want to risk anyone getting hurt accidentally. Pointing out the obvious fallacy in his reasoning simply made him cranky. But we had many fine days, the kids swimming in the pond or playing in the swampy marshes, then enjoying a picnic amongst the black-eyed susans and daisies…and wasps.

All of our family dogs have enjoyed romps there. Today’s outing was dedicated to Elvis, The Coonhound. He is old, frail, and his back legs seem to have a nebulous connection to his brain. He loses control of his legs almost as often as he does his bladder. And yet, his spirit prevails. He’s always up for a ride in my car and an outing to the property…with a strategic stop at Tim Horton’s for some Timbits (the doggie pack). One could argue that donuts are not good for dogs, but we know he’s on the decline and, if he goes out on a sugar high, he’ll go out happy with a smile on his goofy face.

We were checking off items on Coonie’s Dog Bucket list, if you will. And to get the full effect, please read the list with a Paula Dean Southern drawl (since Coonie IS a southern gentleman):

A ride in Grandmama’s car

Nutritious snack of Timbits

Smell the country air with all of its festering possibilities

Find a dead critter to roll in so he smells good for the return trip

Protect his people whilst they eat their picnic and clear the area of any leftovers that might blight the landscape. (He’s an environmentally responsible hound).

Off we went, The Pig and Elvis loaded in the rear of my SUV. Picnic at the ready. Vomit blankets in hand (The Pig is a delicate traveller). The two dogs travel in the rear compartment of my SUV. I can only imagine what drivers behind us think of two smiling doggie faces gazing out the back window at them. When the Timbits appeared in the car, both hounds turned their attention to the fried goodness in a box. The Pig was not allowed a donut until later since we hoped to forestall the inevitable  vomit. Elvis’s head appeared between the seat backs, drool slithering down the backseat in anticipation of his treat.

This was not a day for a prolonged hike since The Coonhound tripped over fallen branches and struggled over uneven ground. He made it to our picnic spot and was rewarded with another Timbit, this one a ‘special order’ from his Auntie Gill. As we ate, he shared in the bounty…smoked salmon, beef bits, bread, cheese…a feast for a king. As L’il Sis and I trudged to the pond to watch an impressive display of almost two dozen geese, The Coonhound and Second Son napped in the sun. A boy and his dog, happily enjoying some quiet time together.

The trek back to the car was difficult for The Coonhound and Second Son ended up carrying him. But the dog was a happy camper, even though this trip was a far cry from his first one years ago. Then, he’d taken off through the woods looking for critters, hellbent on adventure. It may well be that his next trip here will be in an urn, but we were thrilled to give him one more sunny day, one more picnic, one more trip in Grandma’s car, the car he views as ‘his chariot’.  We took pictures so Gill could see her partner in crime, The Coonhound, who dearly loved their trips to the Dairy Queen in the ‘dog days of summer’.

As we turned onto L’il Sis’s street on the way home, she commented:”The Pig has been so good…no vomit! She only has to last two more minutes.” I looked doubtful. And sure enough, the minute she got out of the car, up came her breakfast and the one small bit of donut she had been allowed.

“At least she made it out of the car!” L’il Sis announced proudly.

“Indeed…,” I commented, leaning over to pat The Pig’s head, mindful of the pile of throw-up by my feet. One must be grateful for small mercies.

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