Spring is turning into Summer quite quickly and the garden is burgeoning with explosive growth. Roses are in their second wave, while colorful Morning Glories stretch to reach the sunlight, wrapping around any twig in the path of their journey. Oleander, Lilies, and Butterfly Bushes, which hang plumes of white, yellow, lilac, magenta, lavender and purple attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. It’s a bit of heaven for Andie and me. In this 3-D beauty and expressive life lies solace, peace and a gratitude that lifts all grief and renews the miracle of living in the moments. You see it’s June, a favorite month now filled with poignant memories of birthdays, marriages, passing’s and the astonishing vibrancy of a broken heart.
It’s about 8:00 in the morning. The garden lies on the East side of the cottage and gets that sparkling, beautiful light of dawn and early morning. Andie and I take a look-round first thing and I photograph the latest wonder while the light is still perfect. Andie hunts for fallen plums as usual, but now they are ripe, their hard light-green color turned dark red and bursting with sweet juice. Andie absolutely loves them and now they are spread all over the house, on the bed, in her beds, in the study, in the kitchen and in arrangements she makes of her collections on the brick patio. The only relief to these current compositions are clusters of path bark, which are fortunately natural and contain no toxic chemicals. Andie likes to chew—-her teeth are dazzling white.
When we return to the cottage it’s that time of day Andie seems to love best—Toast Time. I make strong Espresso to get the day moving and toast whatever bread, scone, or muffin happens to fall our way during the week. Andie seems to prefer the whole-wheat/raisin breakfast bars that are also my favorite. If there just happens to be some French cherry jam or exotic Japanese citrus marmalade —-all the better. She sits in the kitchen while all the preparations are on going and can barely contain herself. When I grab my cup of java and lift the toast plate she dashes to the hallway, her ears flapping and little legs going a mile a minute until I pad down the glory trail myself, avoiding squashing any plum trophies, and sit down to the computer. I take a sip and look down. She can hardly wait….and then, a bite for her and a bite for me. After we finish off the toast she gets to lick the plate and the ritual of pure unadulterated joy has passed. She goes into the bedroom, lies in the sun and takes a nap. For little dogs and old men the delights of life can be quite exhausting.
The West side of the cottage is also changing shape. The Cactus, Aloe and tropical plantings garden is now being overrun with Four-a-Clocks, orange Trumpet Vine, various annuals, Peace Roses and and feral Morning Glories in various colors. The chaos makes the little gate look like an entry into a secret world. All that musing however is lost on Andie. She likes the front for entirely different reasons. It happened one late night, while I was staring at the Big Dipper and awed as always by the magic of a large full moon. Something scurried over my foot and caught my attention. It caught Andie’s attention too. She discovered her first field mouse, which lives in the huge cluster of an old stand of Pampas Grass on the edge of the driveway. So, to wit, every night now on our Andie pee trips, she just HAS to check out that Pampas Grass.
There are other wonders too. A few weeks ago I noticed she was meandering back and forth on the sidewalk. Turns out she was sniffing snail tracks and hunting down the nefarious shelled-ones. I had to explain in no uncertain terms that she could not eat them without garlic and butter, or if a true connoisseur—with tomato sauce as in Northern Italy. But, I don’t know if finishing school lectures have any lasting influence on the little one. Even though we have managed to survive in the most haute of wine country environments, Andie seems to be evolving into to a country girl with considerable sophistication and yet, basic instincts.
Maybe I’ll send her to Bennington Collage in Vermont when the time comes. She’s been taught tricks by a Master, but seems to be trending toward free-form, more in the mode of Steiner’s Eurhyme than , let’s say, the usual: ‘roll over,’ ‘shake hands’ or ‘play dead’ feats with which intelligent dogs are to assume their advanced degrees. Me thinks Andie would be quite content in Bennington, but then I would have to move back myself and have to teach her how to shovel snow and that brings us back to square one.