Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I posted a quote from an E. B. White essay about returning to a lake. It included a lovely phrase about the “pattern of life indelible,” and here we are returning to a lake again and again each day as if it’s the first time.
Of course, part of that joy, part of that indelible pattern is, of course, chewing the inedible. Only a dog’s wisdom would choose the sticks that drop like manna over all costly vanities.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Andy and I did this hike a few years ago with Gus, not long after we first met, and we’ve been longing to head back up the mountain.
I’ve blown up the picture below because it just sums up the day for me, and I don’t think it translates in a smaller size. Neither Jax nor I am capable of flight, but when he sails across the mountain grass so high up, it’s hard to do anything but get lost in the air with him.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
So, this weekend, we finally did. I’ve split the trip into three posts, so this first just deals with that first glorious morning when we woke up lakeside.
I have learned to savor the slow creak of joints and the fog that follows me for the first few minutes of a precious day, when there’s no work to be done, no traffic to beat to the highway, no counting of quarters for the cup of cheap coffee that chases off the fog.
Instead, I stood on a lakeshore for an hour in the Maine fall and let air that was just a bit too cold for comfort blow through my bedhead and carry off that sleepy fog. I was jealous for a moment that the dogs could splash into a Maine lake as I have loved to do so many times, and I even considered jumping in myself for more than a moment.
It was enough, though, to watch them, to be chilled by the air and thawed by the sun, cooled by the water they splashed as they ran by, but warmed always by the sight of so much joy.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
There’s something about late afternoon light that makes a red Golden light up like he’s on fire, and as the days grow colder I still feel a warmth tingle through my limbs when I see those streaks of flame light up the woods.
My limbs, and the quivering fire that ever plays through them, for reasons, most wondrous;
Existing, I peer and penetrate still,
Content with the present—content with the past,
By my side, or back of me, Eve following,
Or in front, and I following her just the same.
“Leaves of Grass (17)”
This is the same trip we took a little less than a year ago with a younger Comet and a healthy Gus. I was struck, as I always am, by the idea of cycles and circles, of losing and gaining, of how our endeavors are sometimes as silly and as satisfying as chasing a stick.
In fact, Comet’s vet spent a couple of minutes admiring his musculature at a checkup the other day. I was oddly proud.
Swimming season for humans is well over, but the dogs will swim until the water is completely frozen over.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
September is fetch-time, when overheating isn’t as much of a danger, sticks fall willy-nilly on the grass, and even the fishermen aren’t quite as common on the lakeshores.
September, coincidentally, is also the month in which Jax began to offer Comet some serious competition in the game.
The dogs go rather well with the fall colors, so once we were done, I posed the dogs in front of our new seasonal wares.
Unfortunately, the yard slopes off precipitously towards the street, which is nice for motorists’ viewing of the gourds and not so nice for the photographer as he attempts to capture his dogs in their fall colors while he slides gently down the slope.
I know I’m biased, but Jack really is turning out to be a handsome dog. I love that you can see the blue sky reflected in his eyes.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
As he dredged the chicken to the dogs rapt attention, he flicked some flour into their eager faces. I thought the results were so adorable that I went and grabbed the camera.
I find photographing the dogs indoors at night to be nigh-impossible, since the flash always makes their coats look strange and results in incredible eye glare. For this picture, I held a single layer of paper towel over the flash. The results were a bit red and required a little post-processing to get rid of the remaining eye glare, but the moment was certainly captured with its silliness intact.
The goofy anticipation in the last photo is replaced by a goofy joy in coming back to a beloved whistle that has always meant affection and occasionally means cookies.
I originally posted it back in October. What I didn’t realize, though, was how deeply I would be struck by the similarity of the actual photos.
This is from last October, only two months before Gus died. We had no idea, of course, what was about to happen, and even though Gus is gone, I can see him in Comet, the dog he helped train, and in Ajax, the dog who shares more of his genes.
The continuum of Gus’s life is both broken and unbroken, just as he is gone and is right here in the grass, running beside his brothers, always just around the corner but ready to race back to me the moment I whistle up a memory.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The August mosquitos have made an extraordinary showing on our favorite stomping grounds. So, we had two choices: give up hiking altogether for a few weeks, or hike incredibly quickly and without taking breaks. We chose the second option, so photos simply weren’t realistic.
Hikes in August, then, became a kind of an intense steeplechase of swift walking and jogging over rocks, streams, and muddy swamps. The dogs were rather enthusiastic about this development.
Today, however, was just cool enough to calm if not eliminate the little biters, so I did stop briefly to try to get a couple nice shots of the guys as they practiced “stay.” In terms of the lighting, I picked a substantially better spot for Comet.
Photographers call the first and last hours of light in a day the “Golden Hour.” The sun picks up that mellow, diffuse hue that lights up certain kinds of subjects. It was late in the day when I took these, and while it perhaps wasn’t technically the last hour before sunset, it seemed like a pretty Golden hour to me.