The View from Mattie’s Pillow

From here on the Ridge the sun is bright behind thin clouds. I can look out over the valley, and, over where the hill shoulders down to the river, there’s a thick spread of white cloud. “Freezing fog,” the forecast says, limited visibility. In a little while, I’ll head out to experience it myself, but, for now, I’m content to be at the kitchen table with a cup of peach ginger tea and this laptop.

Yesterday was Jeter the standard poodle’s first birthday and he e-mailed his sister Lucy and brother Kooba (the whole family has celebrity names–Lucy’s a red-head) to wish them happy birthday. For his birthday, he got two dog cookies from the fuel delivery man, a long walk, and a couple of pieces of cheese. A bath and a grooming would probably not have been a welcome present for him, though he needs it.

After sixteen years of living with our old dog, Kermit, living with a young dog is both a challenge and a joy. Though we had done plenty of research on dog breeds and, like the Obamas, had considered breeds like the Portuguese Water Dog, we still had some resistance to buying a breed dog rather than adopting a mutt like Kermit from the shelter. But when the poodle puppies showed up in the paper, we took a ride out to see them, and when the largest brown puppy lay in our arms, so mellow and sweet, there was no question. And the poodle at my feet has been a wonderful dog. He’s smart, energetic, enthusiastic to a fault, and, for the most part, eager to do what we ask him. I’m finally seeing, now, that things we ask of him are becoming routine, so there are fewer communication problems. However, in spite of his baseball player name, he’s not too keen on the game of “fetch.” He gets bored after a while and claims he can’t find the ball or the flying squirrel toy and would much rather run up the hill to see what’s happening there or go off and grab a piece of frozen horse manure to bring into the house. I think more mental challenges are in order.

I know that spring is on the way. Here, schools are on spring break. I have students coming by to see Mattie and Sam today, and our horse club will visit Tom Hart’s blacksmith shop this Saturday. The seeds arrived from Renee’s on Monday and I need to set up the shelves and lights to start the tomatoes for the greenhouse. The Iditarod is halfway over, though I’m not following it the way I did the Quest. Birds flit onto the planters on my deck, nibbling the remains of last year’s flowers, and zipping away. They still ignore the feeder we hung from the roof beam. The days are filled with light.

Still, there’s deep snow everywhere. I went out to work with Mattie yesterday, using the clicker to work on “stand” and “ears up.” Mattie is less fit at this point than Sam is, partly, I think, because she spends so much time sulking in the run-in shed while Sam is out enjoying the view in all weather. Her back doesn’t seem as muscled as his is, so I’m starting off with hand-walking, practicing “walk” and “whoa” and “ears up” all at once. As we circle her side of the corral, we end up walking through the parts where she doesn’t usually walk, and she and I both sink in to our knees. Good exercise for us both, but not very practical and a bit scary, since I know there are frozen brown piles under that snow–the ones we were planning to pick up the day the snow storm hit and that we’ll see again at snow melt in late April or early May.

This is the time of year when we feel most out of synch with the rest of the world, here in the Interior. We have spring fever–our minds wander, we think of places where there are flowers, we plan our gardens and summer training schedules-but we could be hit with snow and 20 below any day.

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2 Responses to “The View from Mattie’s Pillow”

  1. Glow Says:

    How about snow and -40 temps?? Better batten down the horse hatches, MP. Another cold snap this weekend. I shoveled our deck today so I could sit out on bright sunny days out of the wind, but the weather forecast makes me think I did this work a couple of weeks early this year.

  2. Do Poodle Legs Get Shorter in Snow? « Sammy's Story Says:

    […] Zac & Their Adventures]  And Tilly has.  [Tilly the Rescue Terrier.]   And Emma Rose.  And Jeter too.  But it wasn’t snow […]

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