shiny overweight stray
Wednesday, July 5 2006
Just as an activity for the dogs, I drove them down to the bottom of Dug Hill Road and let them run free while I collected semi-sandblasted "tile" rocks from the streambed and anything unusual: granite or quartz pebbles, fossils, or rocks having unusual colors. My eye is so experienced with this sort of foraging that I always find a few fossils every time I go looking for them here, though I've never found anything except brachiopods. Today was the first time I'd ever found brachiopods that were of a distinctly different mineral than the matrix in which they were embedded.
When I was done with my lithoforaging, I rounded up Sally and called for Eleanor. "Elea-nor! Elea-nor!" Eleanor is not usually the sort of dog who is unresponsive to being called (unless she suspects a plan is afoot to trim her nails or wash off whatever unspeakable glurp she rolled in). But she wasn't coming. So eventually I ran some distance up the trail that leads (ultimately) to the Stick Trail network a mile or so away up a formidably steep hillside. I expected to maybe find her digging for a chipmunk or barking at the base of a tree at a bear or a fisher. Eleanor is not nearly as obsessed with such activities as Sally is, so it was all very strange. Sunset had happened and darkness comes quickly in the deep woods there at the base of a steep east-facing slope. I went back to the car and sat there, wondering if I should just go home. Eleanor could probably find her way; it's less than a mile up Dug Hill Road and on a couple extremely adventurous occasions we'd walked down to these woods from the Stick Trail.
As I sat there thinking these thoughts, a battered old American car rolled up beside me and a late middle-aged lady who seemed to be aging remarkably gracefully given her socioeconomic situation called out to me, "Did you lose a dog?" "Yeah," I said. "She's back at my house. I thought she was a stray so I fed her." "That house right there?" I asked. "Yeah."
The house in question is a sort of makeshift ranch-style dwelling crouching atop what appears to be a misplaced pile of gravel on the east side of the Road. It's the only house easily visible from Dug Hill Road between its intersection with Hurley Mountain Road and our house. (Most of the road frontage over that distance is part of the Catskill Park Forest Preserve, protected by the New York State Constitution as "forever wild.") All I know about the people in that house is that guys dressed in camouflage are frequently seen there during hunting season, and I've observed at least one vehicle with a Bush/Cheney bumpersticker pull into its driveway. My assumption has always been that the people living there are what in the south would be placed under the rubric I call "Redneckistani." But here was a woman doing what she thought was right, seeing my shiny overweight dog wandering through her yard, deciding she was a stray, and offering her food. She could have just as easily opened fire I suppose. In all fairness to her decisionmaking process, Eleanor wasn't wearing a collar.
Now I wonder if my foraging routines at the base of Dug Hill Road will forever be spoiled. If Eleanor thinks she can get some free food just by wandering up to that house, will she really have any interest in mining for chipmunks anymore?
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