Friday, November 18, 2011

How To Be Alone

This sweet little video came out over a year ago, but I still enjoy watching it every now and again for all the good reminders. Between traveling and hiking alone so much this past year, I've learned a lot doing everything she mentions here... cafes, dinners, movies, exploring cities, county walks, dancing... Spending time with yourself can be a beautiful gift.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mayor of Tuskaloosa

So the other night I got a message from my friend and roommate, Dan, that he was coming home from pool league with a surprise. Immediately I asked if it was a puppy. Or a trophy. Or a puppy-shaped trophy. These are my standard responses when the word "present" or "surprise" is uttered. Sure enough, about midnight he walks through the door with a dog. Well, a mostly-dog. Apparently he'd seen the black and tan mini-dachshund run across the highway and zip right into a bar called The Stonefly (this is Montana) while he held open the door. This was not the first time this has happened, this week, at this particular bar. (Yeah, um, Montana.) Anyway, long story short, Dan brought him home, bathed and fed him, and he's been here for the last few days, clicking around the house. *Interesting side note about dachshunds--originally bred short-legged to dig out unsuspecting badgers with their mole-ish paddle paws (the mini versions tend to go after rats and prairie dogs)--the famous German breed was referred to as "liberty hounds" by allied forces during World War I, much as delicious sauerkraut was dubbed the wholly unappetizing "liberty cabbage". I find this fact amusing, ridiculous, and kind of awesome all at once. But, as usual, I digress.

What makes this specific dog interesting are his teeth. His epic, tusk-like snaggleteeth. At first I thought maybe some sadistic person had glued on reverse vampire canines to complete a sick Vampuppy costume, and maybe the adhesive just hadn't worn off yet. Then I thought perhaps he'd been bitten by a crusty old mosquito, recently defrosted from the Pleistocene, and some ancient saber-tooth tiger blood had mingled with his own, resulting in unchecked, mutant tusk-like dental growth. You've seen water deer? Wild boars? Then you've got the idea. Fortunately he retained none of the ferocity associated with these other orthadontically-challenged beasts. Actually, he was kind of a shy and nervous sweetie-pie. With the most unholy, record-breaking dragonbreath you've even encountered. Seriously, I've dealt with a lot of unsavory dead and rotting things in my time, and it smelled like they were all having a party in little dude's mouth.

It is strange to cohabitate with a dog whose name you do not know. We tried guessing at his... Dr. Fang? Mr. McTuskers? Sir Snaggle? Herr von Weinerschnitzle?... none of these elicited the slightest response. Maybe he wasn't so formal. We tried again... Hal A. Tosis? Arnold Datuskanegger? Fritzy? Hey Guy? Nothing.

He went to the animal shelter today. We couldn't keep him here. They said he'd get adopted right away--there being a shortage of small breeds with big teeth in this state and all. I will miss the little guy. It is a funny and wondrous thing, how animals and people flit in and out of our lives. I can remember all of the strays I've fostered over the years, their pasts and futures unknown to me, they remain frozen in time. Whether reunited with loving families or adopted by new ones, I've rooted for them all. And, sucker that I am, I've come to accept that some day when I have a home of my own, I'll probably end up with a mangy pack of tusked and toothless weirdos. Perhaps Herr Snaggle will be among them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All the Pretty Horses

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers' arms.

She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.

She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

(Text from She Had Some Horses, by Joy Harjo. Horses-and mules-from Schafer Meadows.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Follow the Yellow-Brick Road

When I was little, maybe three or four, I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. Even though I couldn't look directly at the Wicked Witch of the West, I loved the hell out of those crazy sojourners, especially Dorothy and her "boobie-wed-swippahs" I long coveted. There was even a period of time when I insisted on being called Dorothy, and would answer to nothing else as I clicked my heels around the room, singing Follow the Yellow-Brick Road. And although I've had to wait a long, long time, last week I finally did skip along that golden road, though it wasn't fancy bricks that made it glow. It was larches.

I love larches. I love them in spring, when their spindly, nubbed branches start sprouting those soft, bristly tufts of bright green. I love them in summer, how they feel against my palms when I comb through their needles, how they tickle my cheeks. But I especially love them in fall. Montana doesn't offer many hardwoods, and though the riverbeds may shine with cottonwood and aspen, the slopes are entirely coniferous, wholly green. Until they aren't.

Tamaracks are one of only a few deciduous conifers in the world, and we've got them in spades. They begin their slow seasonal undress sometime in October, and by the end of the month the forests are on fire. Individual branches look like frozen sparklers, and when the wind gusts, the needles swirl and scatter like some strange and foreign snow. When the trees are finally bare, a thick carpet glows below.

I have had the immense good fortune of being granted caretaker rights over an incredible home, surrounded by larches. I will be here all winter, and will be thankful for every minute of it.