Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

I'm still here in Boulder, but my mind is already across the great wide ocean. I wouldn't normally quote John Denver, but the song is rolling around in my head like a soundtrack for this week. Work has been tedious these past few days, and so it is that much harder to concentrate on getting anything done. We leave Friday morning, and I'm mostly ready (except for packing and arranging transport to the airport).

I thought I'd tell you about Fern and little Jake. Fern is the little old lady that lives across the way from us (I could say "street", but there is no paved road anywhere near my house, so we like to pretend that it's just wide open space). We met her one day last week while we were out walking Ruby. I wish I had a picture of her, she has such a wonderful, weathered old face. Her wrinkles and creases are deeply defined, and I like to think of how many smiles and laughs it must have taken to carve them like that.

Fern lost her dog of 15 years earlier this year. I think she's a widow, she mentioned grandchildren but not her husband. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to lose her longtime canine companion, especially if he was the only companion she had left. The area where we live is very remote, and I can already tell how easy it is to isolate and become lonely.

A couple of months ago, Fern went down to the humane society and adopted a six-year-old beagle, named Jake. He's a fierce little thing, with a full gray muzzle. He's a barker, very protective of Fern and of his "yard" (couple of acres of land bordering on our road). As soon as Jake spotted Alex, Ruby and I walking on the road, he cranked up the volume on the barking, straining at his leash to get to us. Ruby is, of course, deaf as a post, so she didn't react to the barking at all, just the appearance of another dog (look! friend! playmate!). She walked right up to Jake, who was barking so hard he looked like he might fall over with the effort. It wasn't until Ruby was about a foot away that she realized something was wrong, it was either the vibration of his barking or the blasts of air to her face that caught her attention. She cocked her head at him, then leaned down a little further toward him......and he stopped. The tail started wagging, there was much sniffing of behinds, and no more barking. I felt comfortable kneeling down and offering him my hand, and he came over and let me pet him.

Fern says it was a good sign that Jake liked us, that he knows things about people. It's the first step in becoming part of our 'hood.

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