Last night we felt a reminder of things to come (winter). Originally published more than 30 years ago in November of '88, this column is reminiscent of that same.
Part of November already gone and the list of things that must be done before freeze-up lengthens out like Plastic Man making his way through a keyhole.
Some progress shows on the former-garage-soon-to-be-chicken-house. One afternoon I came home from wherever I had been to discover that my nearest and dearest had taken saw and hammer in hand and closed the whole back of the thing in. Frankly, this is one of the most hopeful signs I have seen in twenty-eight (almost twenty-nine) years of marriage.
Not only that, a few days later she had tar-papered the whole structure and suddenly it gave every indication of being a possible cackle-cabin. Possible, that is, if the dogs can be persuaded to give it up. It is the biggest doghouse they have ever seen, and since we have yet to hang a door in the opening we cut, they can go in and come out at will.
The old dog has her own cabin, mind you. We agreed with her that it was not too svelte – not what a real-estate johnny would designate as a "desirable location" – when it was sitting in the high grass behind a five-foot-high pile of firewood laid up to make the most of the sunlight as a drying agent. The side of the pile toward the sun was indeed quite dry, but the corollary was that the shady side, where the A-frame doghouse resided, remained dank and dark even through dry spells.
Once we got all the wood in the woodshed, and propped the woodshed up with stout poles to thwart its stubborn desire to go wandering down the hill, or maybe just to fall flat, we dragged the Persephone’s – affectionately known to us as Sephie – doghouse out in front of our house to a patch of sunny ground where she enjoys sitting of an afternoon (or morning for that matter) to see who might be going up and down the road.
She no longer gets offended at people who travel below the speed limit the way our old black dog did. I don't think she ever had strong opinions about the speed limits, but when she was younger, she seemed to feel that if Pluto was going to make himself hoarse with mindless barking, she might just as well join in.
Pluto had a very clear mind about what was fitting speed on the road in front of the place, and he would let people know (us too, of course) when they were failing to maintain a proper cadence. Pedestrians really annoyed him – do what we might to read him the laws pertaining to rights-of-way and all that. These days Sephie just lies and watches the world go by.
Occasionally she will feel obligated to support the young dog when he is having a hairy fit about something – usually the meter-reader. But even then she puts in an appearance more for form's sake than anything else. I've watched the young dog "defend" us from the meter-reader, and I figure Baggins is about as much of a threat to the meter reader's peace and personal property as a fist full of wet noodles done up in marshmallow sauce. The meter-reader is very nice about it, really. Having survived ten years of Pluto's stern discipline he does the best he can not to humiliate this new-comer who barks and barks and then brings his favorite toy of the moment to see whether meter-readers know how to play catch.
Meanwhile the A-frame doghouse may or may not be inhabited, and if inhabited, the inhabitant may be one or more dogs and/or cats. Baggins has views about barn cats keeping to their place and will help to remind them of their place if they incautiously show up in the middle of the lawn. I don't really think it would be wise for, say, Mouth, to insinuate herself into the doghouse if Baggins was inside – even though this doghouse has a vestibule in front of the salle de sejour and the doorways are offset from each other. Mouth could make a fast exit by playing the corners while Baggins was still untangling his snout from the front wall of the vestibule, having failed to make the sharp right turn needed to get to the front door proper.
Ah, well, neither the dogs nor the cats seem concerned about the onset of winter – they're quite willing to let us do the worrying
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.