Saturday, August 26, 2006

Clicker training

Bright puppy Cassandra has figured out that many of the best things in life are immediately preceded by the click-click-click of the car's turn signal. Now that sound is associated in her furry head with arrival at a place to run or swim, even return home. She now loudly signals her approval with "uunh...uunh...UUNH...woowoo."

We have been enjoying outdoor Vermont this summer with walks and swims and road trips to new places to walk and swim. It's fun to watch Cassie learn. She prefers wide, deep brooks to rocky spills with deep pools. She likes to watch canoes and kayaks come off the lake. Task-driven, she likes to go after sticks, although retrieval is not her strong suit.

Toby meanwhile finds rocks and moves them. Sometimes he makes pyramids, sometimes he takes a rock across the brook and buries it in a new place. I think back to college geology class lectures about all the ways that rocks and soil get transferred from place to place and I wonder if they thought about Toby.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Vacances de blog

It has been a summer not for blogging. Too much to see and do, too many new places to swim, too much to paint. We are still in this vacation mode, still feeling as if the summer will last forever.

But the trees have begun to turn. And the first frost warnings have sounded for the coldest hollows. Time to get the wood in.

The painting continues, although all other house and garden work has been put on hold. I don’t care if I ever cut the grass again—well, maybe once before frost—but I am determined to finish my painting project.

It’s gratifying to hear comments from friends and neighbors.

From the wife of a fellow Rotarian: “I am following your progress with interest. It looks like it is going well.” -- “Oh, please keep sending those positive thoughts every time you drive by.” –“Should I honk?” –“Yes! No, wait, perhaps not while I am on that tall ladder.”

From the guy in the hardware store who lives up the road in an impossibly well kept house: “I like the color. It will really ground that house. Good choice!”

From a colleague who lives even further up the road: “Did you fall off the ladder?”—“No, I am moving to the next section of wall, and it is hard for me to move that big plank, so I left it tilting from one ladder while I move the other around to the far side.”—“Oh, good, I was worried.”--"Thanks for watching and worrying."

And from everyone who sees hands or hair or even dogs, “What are you painting? Are the dogs helping?”

Why yes, they are. Toby sports a racing stripe from a porch windowsill, Cassie has frosted the tips of her ears.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beaver beaver

Beaver beaver
Build your dam
We’re the best team in the land
Beaver beaver
Bite and chew
We expect a lot of you!

(Old MIT fight song)

Our relaxation regimen these days consists of two dog swims a day, morning and evening. Yesterday we did a road trip to some swimming holes further away; today it was nearby Green River Reservoir. We drove all the way to the end of the road, then hiked for awhile, passing beaver ponds and following moose tracks.

A beaver pond is a remarkable achievement. It is a little spooky to be walking on a trail with a pond to your left two feet higher than the trail. You can see why the MIT boys at the turn of the century referred to the beaver as “nature’s engineer.”

One of my Vermont books says that seeing a beaver is unlikely, although you might see a nose in the center of a v-shaped ripple. And you very well might hear the sharp slap of broad tail as a warning. We heard two loud splashes today at the beaver pond, and Cassie made a swim for the source, but turned back. Whether it was my command or her native caution, I don’t know.

We love Vermont, but would happily forego close, personal encounters with beavers or with moose. We would just as happily avoid any repeat of Toby’s attempt to capture a woodchuck. This evening we found big goofy dogs at the Reservoir—that’s more our speed.