As a photographer, the light I love the best is October light, there is no other light like it, the sun is cooler, less bright, it comes in the morning and evening at a slant, is soft and detailed, like an artist. Every afternoon, as October light appears, it sketches the autumn leaves on the studio, as if they were painted there. Beautiful light, the best light.
I wanted to strangle Fate on our walk to the lake today, the only thing that saved her was imagining the e-mail I would get when I wrote about it. I pride myself on my training skills, and the great thing about a dog like Fate is that she will keep me humble and remind me not to get lazy or careless. She is a lot of dog, and I messed up today. Rule number ten in dog training: don’t get cocky.
Fate, I should say, is , a great dog, a spirit dog. She has explosive energy and drive, it is only recently that she ever permitted herself – or us – a nap in daylight. Border collie puppies are like portable nuclear reactors, they don’t run down on their own. If you are not patient, you can ruin them, and they can ruin you.
We went to the lake today. Generally, my dogs, including Fate, walk off leash. They don’t run a way, they lie down and sit when there is traffic, they respond beautifully to most commands. On the path to the lake, I always let them off leash, I can see a mile down the road if there are people or dogs coming, and then I leash Fate. Red never needs to be leashed, you could drop a bear in front of him and he wouldn’t charge it or run off.
Fate, I am learning is another story, at least without a lot more training. We got to the water and I didn’t see an older woman sitting up on a hill very peacefully in a crossed-leg yoga position meditating in the afternoon sun by herself about 100 yards away. I’d guess she was in her late 70’s or early 80’s, she was quite at peace up there.
Fate did see her and, tail wagging, rocketed off and up the hill, tail wagging, uncharacteristically ignoring my commands to stop, come or lie down. She was wet from romping in the water, and she landed with a big muddy splash right in the poor woman’s lap. She was, needless to say, startled and yelped in surprise, and then Fate climbed up her chest and showered her face with kisses, causing her to fall down flat on her back.
Mortified, I raced over, shouting at Fate to lie down, which she eventually did, not before jumping up for another round of wiggling and licks. I was apoplectic now, shouting and grabbing at her. The woman, luckily, is a great dog and animal lover, she was charmed by Fate and had no trouble grabbing her by the scruff of her neck and forcing her to sit down. I slobbered apologies, offered to go get a towel, pay for any cleaning, prostate myself in the water.
She laughed. “She’s just a cute little puppy,” she said. Well, yes.
I felt badly, I was abashed and embarrassed. And pissed. I retreated back up the road, and as I did, Fate saw another person, a jogger with a full head of white hair, coming towards us, perhaps a quarter of a mile away. She took off, tail wagging again, exploding with her joy of discovery and rushed up to the surprised man, darting between his legs, and nearly causing him to topple over trying to avoid her.
It turns out he is a famous painter, also a dog lover, and was also charmed and delighted by Fate. “I’ve read your books,” he laughed, running off. “Good luck!” And then, Fate took off after him, tried to herd him off of the path before my outraged shrieks got her to lie down.
The painter was laughing, but I was not. It was funny, in a sense, but not funny. Either of those people could have been injured, upset, angry. I am a big believer in being responsible for my dogs. It should never have happened. Fate completely loses control when she sees people sometimes, she loves them all. She is not ready to be off leash any place where there are people, and won’t be. I have to re-double my training and bring her to places where there are people so I can socialize her property.
Where I live, there are never any people where we walk, we are often in the woods or on remote roads. So this was new. My friend Scott called on my cell phone and I explained why I was shouting at the dog. “That dog will either kill you or keep you young,” he said. We’ll find out which.
When I saw Maria, I told her what Fate had done on the walk. “Well,” she said, without skipping a beat, withdrawing into her studio, “you better do some work with your dog.”
I have to say I’ve never had a dog do that before, not ever in all the years I have had dogs. A wake-up call, a different thing for me, I will put the training cap on and deal with it. Fate is a great dog, and I am happy she loves people so much. Maybe we can help her like them a little less.
On the way home from the lake, Fate put her head on my shoulder and leaned over and gave me a kiss on my cheek. I melted like some cheese on a hot skillet.
I’m glad I didn’t strangle Fate. Maria would have killed me, Karen Thompson would never speak to me again, and I’d be answering e-mail and outraged Facebook posts for the rest of my life.
It seems odd to me that organic, gourmet, thin-crust pizza is readily available around my little town and has become a cherished and regular part of my diet. Jacob Watson helps run Marigold Pizza in North Bennington, Vt., we go there often. The restaurant is so fresh-conscious that they close in the winter rather than use vegetables from any source but organic Vermont farmers.
We had a thin-crust pizza tonight made with whole wheat dough, mozzarella cheese, pesto, zucchini, tomatoes and a very spare sprinkling of fresh sausage, preceded by a fresh garden salad. The pizza I ate as a kid was quite different, the pizza parlors I worked in were not bright and colorful like Marigold, and didn’t have original art on the walls like Marigold.
I remember pizza being thick and doughy, with gobs of cheese and all kinds of red meat. Pizza at the Marigold is very different.
Tomorrow, we are apt to have pizza again at the Round House Cafe from my friend Scott Carrino. He serves pizza every Friday and it is similar to Marigold’s pizza.
Scott is also obsessive about his wood-fired pizza, fresh vegetables, gourmet cheese, thin crusts. For the past five or six years I’ve been learning about healthy and nutritious food, not always easy to get in the country. I’m doing well, pizza is a part of it. I make my own pizza on multi-grain dough often with fresh chopped claims, mozzarella cheese, pesto and fresh tomatoes. Sometimes with zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes.
I’ve gotten to know Jacob Watson, who helps manage the Marigold. He works hard, literally slaves over a hot stove for hours. I look forward to talking with him when he has time, which isn’t often. He is passionate about the quality of the pizzas he makes. This winter, when the restaurant closed, Jacob went to Haiti to do some volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders.
I’m eager to hear about it, he’s planning to visit the farm. Change can be mesmerizing, and it can be good.
When Red works, it is something of a ballet, he has grace and speed and authority, and everything goes the way it is supposed to go. Nobody gets hurt, nobody goes where they are not supposed to go, there is no fuss and no drama.