Gandy Journal: Bonding

She has entered that gangly awkward adolescent age

The smallest gestures of affection and connection are welcomed when they come, at last, after suffering pain repeatedly at another’s expense. You know who I’m talking about. Even though they may be small victories, these moments let us know that boundaries have been crossed for the first time. We take hope that trust will build. An unspoken language promises there will be understanding shared, a becoming possible between us.

We have ceded the high ground to Gandy, covering the old family chair yesterday with a quilt that once was on one of the kid’s beds. This morning, noticing suddenly that the room was quiet, I turned around to find her asleep in the chair.

I took the opportunity to slip quietly over to the love seat and sneak in a short nap myself during this brief off-duty interlude, sliding contentedly into side-lying fetal position, and pulling the blanket down across my legs.

Gandy immediately sat up in the chair, just a few feet away, and propped her front paws on the arm, yipping in agitated tones in my direction. I feined sleep, but it was clear she was headed my way. She was frustrated. She forgets how to get down. It looks steeper going down than it does going up. But she mustered the courage.

In the next instant, she was “spooning” in the crook of my midsection. And after some initial fidgeting and reluctance to settle in, she calmed down. And for the first time, we napped in unison, breathing together, sharing each other’s warmth and rhythm, for a few short minutes until the phone rang.










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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. That’s some good bonding time, Fred. I’ve taken quite a few naps with Dolly on the couch. And that ain’t easy to do with a 75 pound Walker Hound.