Dog stories. I imagine Frieda is finding the story of a mother rabbit, crossing the path with her offspring, wary of coyotes, foxes, owls. Perhaps one of them didn’t make it. Izzy is receiving the story of some wild turkeys, nesting off the path. Or perhaps of a mouse that did not make it past a hawk. Or some coyote who left his scat along his trail as he circled the firm, looking for a way into the barn. Or some deer crossing from the hills on their way to the water. Or an old spoon left by a farmer who died long ago.
It is important to consider the stories of dogs, as they are not our stories. If we imagine them, we can learn to communicate with them in a different way.
As a story-teller, I am especially fascinated by the stories of dogs. We often put our stories into their heads, but what are their stories like. I imagine that with their noses – they collect their stories by nose, I think – they get the stories of coyotes, birds, rabbits and mice, turkeys, bugs, birds, moles and raccoons. They get the story of the earth, of life, birth and death, fear and danger. Scents, droppings, old human discarded things. They put their noses to all of them and collect the stories of their world.
I think of you often, most recently last week when I fell down, as you know I have a tendency to do.
I was crawling around in the mud – the chiropractor thinks my 30 lb camera and lens might be awkward, but I know it is my distracted head – half expecting you to show up and nip at my ear until you got up, as you always did when I fell down. So I got up myself.
I find myself looking around for you when I head out into the pasture. I go into your room upstairs where you slept and kept an eye on the sheep, and I see there is still an indentation there as we have not had reason to change the covering or the sheets. I like that indentation and will keep it for as long as I can. It is the last tangible sign of you. You never liked toys or dog beds, and you were always moving around, so that will have to do.
I want to tell you that I am happy, busy and doing well. I am working on three different book projects this year. Maria is busy making potholders and quilts. We both are participating in an art show this week. I don’t know if the sheep are coming back this summer or not without you. Have to think on that.
I know many people wish their dogs to be waiting for them when they cross over on that bridge, or when they meet in heaven or some other spiritual place. That is not my wish for us. When I think of you, I think of you on a vast farm with lots of quirky sheep. You are fast as the wind again, freed of your tired legs and struggling body. You do one of your rocket-caliber outruns and come around the herd. Some of the ewes and rams come out to butt you and challenge you, but you circle them, nip at them, make them dizzy and bend them to your will.
I see a cool and refreshing stream of water for you to plunge into and drink. I see the wind ruffling your beautiful coat. I see your powerful brown and yellow eyes blazing and locking onto the sheep. At night, I see this herd spread out quietly, you lying next to them, vigilant and very content. This is where I hope you are.This is where I know you are, as I get an image of it once or twice in the night, and it must be coming from you, as I have never seen such a place. How happy this makes me. I want you to know I am happy, busy and well, and every day, I do pause to give thanks for our time together. Oh, and guess what? I’m going to be doing an E-Book original called “The Story Of Rose.” You just keep on working, don’t you. I wild send you letters from time to time, and do not worry. I will be careful walking around here in the winter.
So I have a new blog I love, by the writer Megan Mayhew Bergman. Booklist said readers of this writer will be shocked, amazed and entertained. True. Delighted also. Bergman was, like many literary writers, wary of putting up a blog. Worried about her dignity, she said. She is getting past that, and will soon be over it, and has gotten a sweet new start to the wonderful experience of a writer connecting with readers in a very new, powerful and effective way.
Bergman is a Southern writer, new to Vermont, with her two kids, vet husband and assorted animals. I think it will be a wonderful experience – for me, you, her – to see this writer and this life of a very talented writer evolve through her work and through the new technology available to people like me and her to get our story out there. Her blog will grow and evolve, and we have the privilege of seeing that happen. You will be hearing a lot about Megan.
You all know what this evolution is like, a great fusion of creativity and individuality. One by one, creative lives get to do their work. Megan gets it, I think, on every level. Her very wonderful new book, “Birds Of A Lesser Paradise” is being published on March 6 by Scribner and is available everywhere, but especially through our very own Battenkill Books. You can read an amazing book – wait until you see how Megan writes about animals, people and family – and support and encourage a very hot young writer and also support the Battenkill Experiment, and help Connie Brooks terrorize Amazon. You can buy Megan’s new book by calling 518 677 2515 or through the store’s website or by e-mailing Connie or her mother Marilyn at email@example.com. Megan, we are so fortunate to have you in this community (digital and real).
You can also follow Megan’s blog by going to the Blogs I Love header at the top of this page. I am very pleased to add Megan to Mary Muncil, Jenna Woginrich, Connie Brooks, Paula Josa-Jones and soon, some other fierce and gifted individualists bring some of the most exciting ideas and writing to the Web, where creativity lives these days. You read stories all of the time about how literacy and civilization is collapsing, but that is not so on the Internet, where real ideas are in full bloom. If you don’t believe me, check out Megan Mayhew Bergman and her spanking new blog. Feel free to tell her, as I will, how to make it better, and watch it grow. You will be richly rewarded: you will get to see a rare thing, a successful writer in the making and help make it happen.