Dead dogs and Englishmen

I know that’s not the quote, but I also know I’m not a man!   And after 30+ years in the United States (which followed 8 years in Germany),  little remains of my Englishness other than my accent and my sometimes-reservedness.  My cousin even says I now think like an American, but he can’t define the difference.  I think of myself as American and Southern.  Southern — it’s been dawning on me more and more over the past few years that I would miss so much about the South were I to move to another region, much as I like to visit new cities.  It’s the same as the way I feel about England now — it’s a great place to visit, but it’s like wearing high heels instead of hiking boots.  Something just doesn’t quite fit comfortably.

So what led up to thinking about dead dogs…..

This week the education services I subscribe to inundated me with articles about teacher burnout and teaching conditions by state.  Yes, unhealthy food seems to be what my body craves right now.  Yes, I take an additional 10 minutes for breakfast and coffee in the morning before getting ready.  Yes, to quite a few other things in the teacher burnout articles.  But I’ve attended conferences and taken graduate classes every summer for the past 6 years, so I think a summer off will cure that.   The articles about teaching conditions rank Georgia higher than South Carolina across all categories, but would teaching be better if we were living in an RV in Georgia and sharing a closet the size of a filing cabinet?   I sincerely doubt it.   But I want chickens, and I just can’t have them here in the neighborhood.  And I’m not good at being patient!

All of this led up to the thought, “I want a beagle” while I was driving to work Friday morning.  Beagle rescue groups currently have some of the prettiest mixes and with such beautiful brown eyes!   It’s been two years now since our dog died, and even longer since we lost the cats, and taking care of BIL’s dog while he was on a business trip over spring break has just made us miss them all a lot.

Now, we have pets.   While the bees aren’t technically pets, they are generally amusing to watch and we do get to nurture them.   The aquarium is relaxing to watch and I do feel sad when one of the fish ends up floating upside down. We even have a wild bunny that I kept inadvertently hitting with the garden hose yesterday as it searched for a spot that I wasn’t trying to hit with Miracle Grow.  But we don’t have any pets that will curl up in our laps and look at us with loving eyes.

Then sanity kicked in.  We also don’t have any pets that poop on the carpet, unless I am really klutzy disconnecting the canister filter on the aquarium, and I can hardly blame the fish for that!   We’re going into a month of late nights at work that tend to leave a dog with little choice but to poop or pee in the house.  We simply are not ready to move.  We don’t have electricity on the farm yet and our house needs some work done before we put it on the market.  So I put all my longing for the outdoors and for the ability to see instant results after a hard day’s work into re-pottting seedlings and dumping out failed cuttings.  We now have 21 magnolia seedlings, two of which are the same height as the one we bought from Arbor Day for $6.98.  (And that one is still settling in so looks less promising than my free seedlings.)   The aluminum baking pan into which I dumped the magnolia seeds that I forgot about in the garage fridge contains a swampy mess that somehow still keeps popping up a new seedling about once a week, so I left the soil in there for now after pillaging what was growing.  I’ve stopped counting Goldenraintree seedlings.   I have some very well rooted lavender and rosemary.  Most of the trees from Arbor Day and doing well and will certainly be ready to plant at the farm in fall.

As the sun set last night, we sat on our swing and looked out at the yard that was nothing but a sandpit when we bought the house and which has become our haven over the years.  We watched our bees drink out of the bird baths, and we watched the birds visit the feeders.  For the second year in a row, we have bluebirds nesting.  It took us years of us to find the right place for a bird house for them.  While sitting there, we planned where to put benches to take advantage of the sun, the shade, sun rises, and sun sets on the farm and we decided that every bench needs to have a hive nearby because the critters can be so much fun to watch.  And, yes, we will have a dog.  It may not be a beagle, and it won’t be this year, but we can’t picture retirement without a dog to take on walks around our future pond and own to our creek.  After a day outdoors, I can once again say that life is good.



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