MAGGIE IS CHANNELING ME. She knows something is going on. Peering first in the glass doors of the snow porch, she has watched as I remove books from the shelves and pictures from the walls. Wandering down the steps of the deck and back again up steps to the glass door by the kitchen, she observes as I take cans, bottles and pasta boxes out of the pantry. Her nose looks large as she presses it into the glass. Later I see her looking in the double French doors on the lower level. She is watching as Buck wraps paintings and mirrors in special glass packs.
If you have a dog, you know how they are. They like routine, and get anxious when their owners seem to be behaving in a more intensely neurotic fashion than usual.
Maggie watched forlornly as I took off in the van for the grocery store down the mountain, and was awaiting my return just where the hill breaks into the flat spread of the driveway, brow furrowed.
I think dogs don’t know what to do when they sense something funny is going on. So, they just go and do dog things. Buck fired up the grill for me, while I rubbed some spices on a whole split chicken. The coals cooked down, I added some mesquite chips, then put the chicken on and closed the lid, opening the vents just enough to ensure lots of smoke and no burning.
Hearing the sound of dog steps trotting up behind me, I turned, looked and burst into laughter. There was Maggie, looking like the Devil Dog From Hell. She had been down to the cow pasture, rolled in the perfumed patties, then buried her face in the cool cast-off gray white ash from last week’s charcoal fire, her chocolate face dusted as though with confectioner’s sugar.
And then, naturally, she wanted to come in.
After supper, I gave her a make-shift bath. She is lying on my feet right now, chin on Buck’s thigh, content to know we are here for her, even if most of our worldly belongings are packed away in labelled boxes, almost ready for the movers, sitting here eating ice cream bars in our deconstructed home.