I’m truly tired. But now I can look out at the rainy landscape and feel pleased. My secret garden is nearly ready for winter. The first hard frost will be the signal to trim back the rest, such as the lavender and Buddleia.
I still can’t bear to chainsaw the two gigantic tropical banana trees. Their nine-foot tall, glossy gorgeous purple leaves love the cool rain, and I delight in their towering presence. The fountains are mostly drained and scrubbed, but not covered yet. Just a little more garden nitpicking is necessary- pulling clover and other weedy ruffians hiding under the huge assortment of annual flowers still blooming vigorously. I can’t bear to terminate them yet.
Next week, though...
Bryn, who always chooses to sit near me on the grass, has watched the daily dismantling. She’s had an unexciting week nursing a sprained ankle from stepping into a small hole while rocketing around the Garfield Township dog park with her friends. I immediately removed her. The ankle will need time to heal.
So she limps about the house, bored to death. I’ve tried to make up for the enforced rest by taking her on long, interesting walks. The ‘sniff potential’ is fabulous. She appreciates the novelty, but it’s just not the same.
Two days ago I took her into the secret garden. She won’t poo there. (Bryn knows the rules now, seeing our property as an extension of the house.) Watching me work can be exciting, because I tend to disturb bold-as-brass bunnies, who rush out from under a bush’s shelter as I crawl into it. She pierces them with hot eyes, but doesn’t chase, or, if she does, she’ll brake at the grass/flower boundary.
She studies me carefully as I gabble on to myself about earth-shaking rubbish while I work. Occasionally, a delicate nose-bump on my arm conveys her sympathy or support.
I tell my dog everything.
Because she sticks so closely to me I’d grown increasingly lax about ‘pause mode’- where I stop suddenly while I’m working, and meet her eyes for ten seconds. No words pass my lips. My blinkless Look serves to reinforce The Command.
This mistake nearly cost me everything when I forgot to reinforce again as we moved into the front garden, where she’s not surrounded by tall walls. Bryn is prone to impulsive behavior when in a fever of passion or delight. Squirrels don’t tempt her to bolt. Even bunnies don’t. But --multiple dogs strolling past on the other side of the street, attached to their harried dog walker, were an irresistible lure for lonely Byrn.
She hadn’t dashed for days, and so was overflowing with energy and eager to connect with her kind. Now, just feet from me, she spotted the group, who’d naturally invited her to come to them. (Oblivious to what was unfolding, I was bent low near the front porch, cutting away hosta stems with my big serrated bread knife, which makes the job so easy!)
Next to me my helper Spencer suddenly shouted, “BRYN! NO!!”
I looked up, confused. My God. There she was, standing in the street in her fleecy white coat, arrested in mid-stride by his voice. Just an instant before, she’d been right next to me! Now a car trundled toward her at about 20 miles an hour.
Spencer’s shout had stopped her forward momentum.
A confused Bryn looked back at us. She’d moved past her home’s boundary without thought.
Uh-oh. I shouldn’t be here! But Boss, the sniffs...the fun...
All I could do was stare helplessly at the approaching car.
The driver braked firmly, and it jerked to a stop just a whisker away from clueless Bryn. .
After that I’m a bit vague about details. I just remember my huge yell: “COME”!!! She came back to me immediately, looking sheepish.
The driver shot me a look, which I deserved, and continued slowly on her way, probably as horrified as I was. I stood rooted, trembling and sick, overcome by a flood of ‘what ifs.’
What if she’d been chatting on her phone?
What if she’d been thinking about how lovely the autumn leaves were and hadn’t noticed Bryn?
What if she’d been going just a tiny bit faster?
What if Bryn hadn’t heard Spencer?
What if Spencer hadn’t noticed Bryn’s bolt?
He’d saved her. He saw what I should have seen, and reacted instantly with a shouted command that alerted both dog and driver.
He’d saved me, too.
I mimicked a jellyfish for a time, then regrew a spine. Qwn your mistake. Learn from it. This was a close encounter of the final kind, and Luck was a lady today.
My shaking legs managed to support me. I moved her into the house, and made myself a bracing cup of tea. She crept to her kitchen nest, knowing she’d messed up. I didn’t have to say one word.
The sun continued to shine, and the mug of tea warmed my horrified heart.
I still had Bryn.
Never assume. Oh, my God...Never.