Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Smell Like a Monkey, and You Look Like One Too

Last week my last litter of pups celebrated their first birthday. I was lucky enough to be invited to Rufus' and Elsa's birthday party in Iowa. There were cupcakes with candles for the kids and specially baked and frosted biscuits for Rufus and Elsa and Roxie and Angus and me. They were all laid out on an elegant cake tray. There were birthday hats and birthday songs and I was growing impatient with the whole thing. I mean those frosted biscuits were sitting right in front of me on that elegant cake tray. It was a clean shot for me. So when everyone was singing, and I thought no one was looking, I sprung up and grabbed a biscuit and knocked the entire tray onto the floor. Lighted candles and all. It was like a fireworks display. I tried to make light of it and joked that I like to make pyrotechnics part of all my party plans. Well, anyway, it did liven things up a bit. I don't really like that Happy Birthday song anyway.

Speaking of birthdays, my friend Ruth has a birthday coming up. Ruth will turn 93 on November 28. Let's see that means she was born in 1917. Is that right? Nineteen seventeen doesn't seem that long ago. Ninety three. Now, let's see, that's a little more than 13 in dog years. That's not so old. Ruth lives in Chicago and Northern Michigan. Mostly in her Michigan cottage now. Lit Mo Dee, Ruth's cottage on Beach Drive in Michigan is an exotic confection. Step into Lit Mo Dee and you step into a special world. Little Mother Dear is what Ruth and her siblings called their mother and, while he was in France during the war, her brother shortened it to Lit Mo Dee. I guess it does sound vaguely French. The house on Beach Drive was Little Mother Dear's creation and her slice of heaven.

Lit Mo Dee has an artesian spring in the backyard with a dipping cup. The water is cool and fresh, One day, Ruth took us thru the cattails and into the sandy pond that fronts Little Traverse Bay to see another spring burbling to the surface at its edge. I don't know why but that burbling spring entranced us. There are artesian springs all over this town. In fact the town is named after these springs. I think there is a spring in almost every yard on Beach Drive. They come in every variety. Some look like wishing wells. Some are small creeks that appear at one end of the lawn and disappear at the other. Some are simple spigots. The one I like the very best is a terraced stone edged creek. The pic above is of Angus and Rufus enjoying the creek. We stopped there everyday on our long morning walks this summer. To cool our feet and to get a drink.

Now, Beach Drive is a gorgeous piece of real estate. Most of it is a private association of cottages. And most of the cottages were built in the late 1800s and have remained in the hands of the same families ever since. Everyday in the summer we parade up and down Beach Drive. This year some people remembered us from last summer and many stopped their cars, rolled down their windows, and asked lots of questions. Some people said, "Looks like a handful." Others said, "They sure are gorgeous dogs" or "What fun!" Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, I was paying attention and I have come to the conclusion that how strangers greet us on the street says a lot about them and very little about us. Except for the gorgeous and fun part. Some see the bowl as half empty, some half full.

I can't tell you how much we walked each day during our Michigan summer, but it was a lot. It was not unusual for a passerby to exclaim with surprise, or perhaps, irritation "Didn't I just see you out on the pier" or "I thought I just saw you going into Howse's!" Like they thought they would have a few minutes to themselves while we were in the candy shop. There is an older woman in this small Michigan town that we would frequently pass while out on our walks. She was walking too. Up quite a steep hill or slowly down the main street. Sometimes down by the harbor looking out to the bay. We learned later that she is known around town as Walking Mary. I didn't say anything to dad, but I wondered to myself if, perhaps, in this small Michigan town we had earned a nickname too.