Puppy Love

Quinoa

At the end of the first week that David and I began seeing each other in 2008, I called him on Friday night.  We talked about the upcoming weekend when Adrienne and Matt, and Matt’s parents, were coming to see Church Landing on Lake Winnipesaukee, where we’d booked their wedding reception.  Matt’s parents were bringing their two West Highland terriers.

“They’re nice dogs,” I said.  “I like having dogs in the house.”

“Do you want a dog?” he asked.

“Oh, no,” I answered.  “I’m done with pets.  But you’d be astonished at how many people, close friends even, told me I should get a pet after Eric died.  They’d call and say, ‘I know what you need.  You need a dog.’ Or they’d tell me to get a cat, or something.  When I’d answer, ‘You do realize, don’t you, that even if I get a dog or a cat Eric is still going to be dead?’ that usually shut them up.  No, no more pets for me.  I travel too much for one thing.”

“Well that’s settled,” David said.

“What’s settled?”

“The question of whether we’ll have pets.  I’m done with having pets too.”

I was surprised he was already talking about whether we’d have pets, but I liked it.  It was a comfort to think there was a future where I’d be making decisions with someone else about how I lived.

I haven’t changed my mind at all about having a pet.  But this week, being a grandparent to a puppy has been a delight.  Quinoa is lively, spunky, affectionate and adorable.  His unbridled joy at seeing me when I take him out of his crate after being out doing errands, is so gratifying.  I’ve had dogs, and understand the attraction of having such a devoted companion.  But experiencing the devotion this week has made me feel the attraction again, not just understand it.

But it’s only puppy love.  When Quinoa goes back to Tennessee with Sam this weekend, I’ll be fine going back to my petless state.

 

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Home Alone

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Emilio prepared for saying good-bye to everyone by crying.  “I don’t want to go.  It’s been too short.” Then he got dressed, ate breakfast, and pitched in to help us all get out of our vacation rental by 10:00, after a late night for all of us.

There were more tears this morning, but not Emilio’s.  He’d left with Adrienne and Matt on Friday to go back to Long Island.  David and I were lucky — we got to extend our family vacation into the weekend, with Melia and Michael, Mackenzie and Sam all at the house until this morning.

This was our first family vacation with this iteration of family.  Our week together at a big, comfortable house on Squam Lake was terrific — fun, sweet, funny, scenic, serious, tasty, refreshing, relaxed and energy packed.  There were constant conversations among the family and flow of guests, so many people visiting from so many spokes of the family at one point that a visitor said good-bye to Adrienne as she was going out the door, thinking she was a guest leaving.

There were quiet evenings with only the core nine of us, Emilio asleep and the rest of us reading or talking over a game.  There were late nights with a crowd for dinner and numerous stunner sunsets.  The World Cup final was streamed on three different computers set on tables facing a semi-circle of chairs.  At one point the streaming feed of one computer was 3 seconds behind, creating sequential squealing and groaning across the room, as those watching the on time screens reacted and the rest of the room caught up. Emilio climbed his first mountain (West Rattlesnake) and he and I together picked every accessible ripe blueberry on our corner of the lake, out in the morning to get what had ripened overnight and eat it before the birds.

Now I’m home alone for the first time in 10 days.  “Transitions are hard,” I said last night, thinking about how just now would feel, everyone gone, the house only holding David and me today and for many days to come.  But as I listened to the kids talk about their own transitions, back to our usual geographically scattered state, I thought maybe I have it easiest. I’m already home.

And actually, I’m not home alone.  Long story, but Sam ended up flying back to Tennessee today and will be back up next weekend to get his car.  That meant his puppy Quinoa will be here with me for the week, a particularly adorable part of the family left to make the house seem a bit less empty.

 

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On Top Of What I Looked At

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For 22 years I looked at the Ossipee Mountains on the far horizon across the southwestern coves of Squam Lake.  From the Westwinds Cottages, where our family spent a week every summer, I could see the Ossipees behind the closer height of Red Hill,  a hazy ridge of mountains I’d never climbed.  I knew the Ossipees were a ring of mountains from an ancient volcano, but there were few known trails and no maps, and I was always busy climbing the higher White Mountains to the north.

Yesterday I got to stand on top of the ridge I looked at all those summers and take in a distant view of that southwestern corner of Squam Lake, along with a gloriously expansive view of Lake Winnipesaukee.  The trail to the summit of Mt. Roberts passed over numerous ledges with views of the lakes to the south.

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From the top of Mt. Roberts we followed the High Ridge Trail, which strings many of the peaks together.  It’s an old carriage road, running along the 2,000 foot ridge, and is wide and grassy and some of the best hiking footing I’ve ever experienced.

The trails in the Ossipees have been mapped by the Trail Bandit, a man who started by mapping St. John in the Virgin Islands for hikers, then took on the Ossipees next.  I don’t know what the connection is, but I’m thankful for the work he’s done to make the trails more accessible.  The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has gone even further in making their conservation area in the Ossipees accessible by creating trail maps and kiosks in the Castle in the Clouds area of the Ossipee Mountains, clearly marking 30 miles of trails with blazes and signs.

With a strong wind cooling off the hot sun and flickering light through the leaves of the trees along the trail, it was an ideal day for hiking.  I fell into a smooth rhythm of walking, the flow of a good hike following me long after I got to the end of the trail.  At the summit of Mt. Roberts we chatted with a couple having lunch there.  We talked about hiking lists we’ve completed (the man has done all the 4,000 footers in New England and the woman was working on 52 With A View) and how for the most part none of us are into lists at this point in our lives — too many other things competing for our recreational attention.

But after yesterday, the peaks in the Ossipees is a list I plan to pay more attention to.

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