Creek Jots ~ 2010-02-17

A Dog for All Seasons

Out my window, beyond the gnarled and crippled pine that grows beside the branch, the snow-smothered pasture has been white now for six weeks, I think to myself. Then I look again. And while I know the blanket of snow is white and interpret it that way when I see it at first light, the raw perception of color from our field is not of white. At this hour, 6:48 a.m., if I were to paint this scene, I’d mix a color of blue-gray patterned after the mousy hue of dryer lint, diluted with white and very little red. Already in these few minutes, I’ll need more white to match what I see now.

The dog loves the snow except for the fact that it has been up to his….well, let’s just say it has been hard for him at times to make deposits on TOP of the snow where instinct says it should go. He also likes it, I think, that his frequent stops leave visible traces of his domain, not just the olfactory markers of territory. But we grow weary of yellow snow as the only alternative to the unrelenting white.

I marvel at how the foot or more of snow seems not the least impediment to Tsuga’s ability to smell a mouse from 30 yards and at a full clip running across the pasture. He does not hesitate to bury his head, then head and upper body in the snow to dig out a mole, mouse or shrew. He doesn’t eat them (shrews, I think, are poisonous actually) but rather thinks of them as sport AND especially as something to roll on to acquire a kind of sexy  pheromonic cologne to allure the females. (WHAT females, he asks from the other room?)

And speaking of dogs–which I do off and on at Fragments, and much more if HE had his way: I’ve had more than one person recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain, new to me but following on Marley’s heels, it seems to have been getting a good bit of press, conversion to an audio book (first two chapters for listening at the link) and now a movie. I ordered it yesterday and sent it to my mom. Eventually, it will find its way to Goose Creek, and we will read aloud to Himself, nestled comfy on the love seat, in his two-story white frame doghouse.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. LOVE the picture 🙂 I actually just got that exact book back from a friend of mine. I highly recommend it as well, and you are more than welcome to borrow my copy. Email me to let me know. I’ll leave it in the office downstairs at the shop or I can leave it in town somewhere.