The road more traveled

by emily on July 15, 2015

So, I took the dog on a hike today because, well, because that’s what we do. And we’re going to skip over the part where he chased a bleating baby deer and ignored me when I called him off and I failed to think clearly enough to grab for the deer instead of the dog and then he ran off into the woods and then the bleating stopped and the dog disappeared for fifteen minutes during which I can only assume he was consuming said baby deer while I called for him.

Deer are overpopulated anyway.

We got up to the spot I’d hoped to make and still had a bit of time, so I turned right and followed the sign for Clara Bow. This trail was a bit more challenging—narrow, next to a precipice, and so forth. We were doing all right until I got to this.

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You see that blue arrow? That’s the blaze. It points to the next part of the trail. Which is this.

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See that blue blaze down there? I’m supposed to hike down there to get to it. Now, granted, someone left a wooden ladder off to the side, so I could use that, if I were up for leaning across a chasm to grab a ladder, trying to balance it from the top, and then climbing down without anyone spotting me.

Or, I could turn around, go back up the narrow trail next to the precipice, turn left where I had turned right, and be rewarded with this just a few hundred yards on.

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The dog liked it, too, although he was burping a bit. See above re: baby deer.

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The man who went up a mountain

by emily on July 13, 2015

At 2651 feet, it’s a small mountain. Since the parking lot is up a steep road, you’re only hiking up an elevation of 1520 feet in the course of about a mile and a half. Hugh Grant movie jokes aside, however, it is a real mountain.

We hiked it this weekend—Lilah, J, Marley, and me. I hike it regularly enough to know not to go after a big rain and where along the trail one is least likely to be happened upon mid-pee. I’d never, however, come upon the trail’s resident golden retrievers. I’d heard about the two dogs who live somewhere near the trailhead, but I’d never encountered them till yesterday, when they joined our party ten minutes into the hike.

“Oh, yes,” said a woman coming the other direction. “They live nearby. Every day, they take themselves on a hike.”

“They’re pretty annoying,” her companion put in, sounding a bit smug about the fact that we got stuck with them this time.

Stuck with them, we were. They accompanied us, at first cavorting with Marley, but then just sort of ambling in the general area of our group, like when you’re standing alone at a high school party and you go over to be kind of near another group and laugh at their jokes so people will think you’re part of the clique and not some loser who showed up at the party but doesn’t actually have any friends. Not that this ever happened to me…

When we came upon other hikers, the dogs treated them as outsiders. When we stopped so Lilah could have a snack and I got out Marley’s treats, they sat, too, looking at me with clear expectations. These dogs were totally Timmy from next door who comes over every day to ask if your kid can play and your kid doesn’t want to but she’s too polite to say so and now Timmy thinks she’s his best friend but really Timmy spends most of his time sitting at your kitchen island telling you about Pokemon.

It’s a moderate hike, but enough to build up a good sweat. For my husband, who hasn’t summited a mountain in the two decades I’ve known him, it was a significant challenge. For my daughter, who’s six, it was a lot of little steps. But climb it we did, with Lilah’s sturdy little legs leading the pack and setting the pace and J bringing up the rear. One of them complained considerably more than the other. Although it probably didn’t help that I kept saying things like, “This is the easy part” and mentioning that I’d once seen someone hike the mountain barefoot.

But my husband wants to get into shape, and plus he kind of had no choice in the matter, and Lilah wanted to bag her first summit, so they plodded on, my husband sometimes grumbling, “How come she gets to have two snacks?”

Now and then, other hikers would ask how old she Lilah, and when we told them, I’d add, “It’s her first mountain.”

“Good for you!” they’d exclaim, whereupon I’d feel obliged to tell them that it was my husband’s first mountain, too. “Good for you, too,” they’d say, albeit somewhat less enthusiastically.

With some huffing, some puffing, a bit of scrambling, and possibly a few inaudible curses from my husband, we made it to the top. Also with two dogs that don’t belong to us. I lined up Lilah and her dad to take some pictures in front of the view, but the two goldens kept wandering into the picture. Yes, we were photobombed by Timmy the dog.

When J had finally got to have his snack and we had spent some time identifying places in the view below, we started down the mountain. Well, after waiting for other people to come up and distract our wannabe dogs while we snuck back down the trail.

It’s a popular weekend hike—good for dogs and kids—so we met more hikers on the way down, plus one fraud who hiked up the mountain but then ran down to convince people how badass he is. We also met a good number of dogs who dutifully sniffed a bit with Marley. I took a good look at the hindquarters on one old guy and then turned to J. “OK, you can’t complain anymore. Not only is our six-year-old doing the hike, but this dog is doing it on three legs.”

I’m not sure, but I think he might have responded, “Well, that’s one more than I have.” Once we saw the pregnant woman on her way up, however, he conceded. He’d lost all right to kvetch if she was hiking the damned mountain while carrying another person inside her.

This is the problem with Vermont. Just when you think you’re being all fit and outdoorsy, you run into a six-year-old or a pregnant woman or a barefoot lady or a three-legged-dog hiking up the same mountain you are.IMG_7901

Timmy the dog taking the spot at the very top with the best view.

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Smarter than the average bear

July 3, 2015

Our neighborhood here in Vermont is an off-leash area. Dogs stroll through our yard now and then on their way to lunch dates or business meetings or somesuch. There are extensive hiking trails behind our neighborhood, and people are forever tromping down the road in various stages of sweatiness preceded by muddy canines. Marley, however, […]

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Buffalo Soldier

June 26, 2015

The kids wanted to keep the name the dog got in the shelter. Frankly, I was relieved. “Bob Marley” was better than what Zachary wanted to call him. What kind of a self-respecting dog can walk around with the name “Popsicle”? Lilah had some other ideas, but since she speaks some made-up language to her […]

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Happiness is

June 25, 2015

I’ve wanted a dog my entire life. Really, my entire life. My stepmother had this dog. Or at least this little thing approximating a dog. Ketchie, it was named. But as it belonged to my stepmother, one would be hard-pressed to imagine it being a source of dogginess for me. For the record, she treated […]

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On Baltimore and mothers and privilege

April 30, 2015

I’m seeing a lot of articles about why we shouldn’t call Toya Graham a hero. Graham, in case you don’t have internet access under your rock, is the mother who was video recorded smacking her teenaged son and chasing him away from the looting in Baltimore. The articles I’m seeing are taking (white) people to […]

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Mixed-faith

April 9, 2015

Sometimes, my husband jokes that he married me for my matzoh ball soup. At least, I think he’s joking. He might be a little bit serious. When we married, I made very good matzoh ball soup. Now, I make freaking fantastic matzoh ball soup. I’d tell you how I make it, but it takes several […]

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Why I’m Not Teaching My Son to Put the Toilet Seat Down

March 26, 2015

You may have read the title to this post and thought I had some deep philosophical reason not to teach my son to put down the toilet seat. Or you may have thought, “At least I’m a better parent than that lady.” Or perhaps you read it and shouted, “You know, a pilot intentionally slammed […]

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All My Life’s a Circle

February 28, 2015

It all started with the bananas. I was buying a snack for the after-school activity I was running at the kids’ school. I loaded six large bunches of bananas on the belt. They were fair trade and organic and all that crap, I promise. “It reminds me of ’30,000 Pounds of Bananas,’” I quipped to […]

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White Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014

The Thanksgiving montage I remember from my first decade was deep in snow. We went to visit a relative of my stepmother several years running. This woman ran a youth hostel, and my stepmother’s large Italian family converged upon it for the holiday. What I remember: A long, long table filled with so many people, […]

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