A Bunny Tail

Dennis and I watched a darling little rabbit hippity-hop around the edges of the garden early this morning. Nervous he is not; nervous he definitely should be. He appears to be the only one left of his brood, his siblings obviously the victims of the ever-ready bunny hunters: coyotes, fox, hawks, or cats. As the hour progressed, he became bolder and bolder, venturing into the center of the yard to savor clover blossoms or leaping randomly to try out his newly discovered, athletic abilities.

One of the older rabbits who roam the neighborhood.

Taking my camera from its case I quietly slipped out the front door and through the picket gate to attempt a picture. No chance. He slipped back under the daylily canopies and the cool shadows of the hydrangea.

I am concerned about him; this is no McGregor’s garden, but our old calico cat (still surprisingly stealth at seventeen) has caused a quick end to many a young bunny, and the hawks, who often hide in the pine branches, would love a savory snack of this tiny one.

Jinx, while now an old cat, she is still amazing quick and agile.

Young Cottontail has made it to lunchtime, and he fearlessly nibbles the grass at the back of the yard. The squirrels (who could use a few more predators in my opinion) chase each other up and down the locust tree; they are cocky, plump buggers–nothing like sweet Peter and his gentle grazing and gazing.

Fearlessly, obliviously, joyfully he investigates our yard. His youthful exuberance has made our day.

I fear his cavalier hours on earth will probably be brief, but despite the hazards

The July garden.

It’s a Fine Life.  

Cottage Care: Love Over Logic

For a week or so each summer, we are lucky enough to have a place to go to beat the heat and get away. It has always been the highlight of our family’s year.

When we were kids, the station wagon strained with the five of us children, a grandmother, two dogs, sleeping bags, fishing gear, and all kinds of caged energy and excitement. Once my dad’s tanned arm draped the driver’s side door, my mom’s sunglasses adorned her face, and we had wiggled into our places, we launched, listening to Ernie Harwell or the gravelly voice of Merle Haggard. Inching along, we left the humid world of corn fields and wheat stubble; just past Mt. Pleasant, the air began to thin and the lovely smell of northern pine forests began. 

A late 1970s photo of our family place.

Our old log cabin sits on a river and protected sandy bay on the Lake Superior Canadian shore. Our maternal grandparents purchased the vacant property in the late 1930s, and our families have enjoyed it ever since.

Currently, many third and fourth generation cottage owners struggle to maintain, finance, and agree on what to do with older aging properties. So far, the nine families involved have worked things out pretty well, but caring for an aging vacation home is an exercise in love, not logic.

Our grandchildren are the fourth generation of young ones whose lips turn blue in the clear, icy water, whose little eyes faithfully watch their bobbers, whose necks are lined with black fly and mosquito bites. I realize how fortunate we are.

My cousins and I were the second generation of children to play on the beach.

Yes, times have changed. On many lakes in in our area, cottages have been sold, demolished, and replaced with gorgeous year-round-homes. The modest vacation dwellings that remain look out of place, hidden in the shadows of their fine, fresh neighbors.

It’s hard to imagine a new place. Would I miss the mustiness? The brown bats that flutter in the rafters? The snap of the mousetraps once lights are out?

Absolutely not.

But I would miss the wash tubs nailed on the sagging exterior, the familiar creak of the steps and floorboards, the sweet smell of my grandmother’s spices in the old kitchen cupboard.

When I was a toddler, my grandmother bathed me one of these old washtubs. I remember how cold it was but how loved I felt.

Family cottages are a nostalgic journey through the years: the cast-off dishes and jigsaw puzzles, the old record players and scratched vinyl. All reminders of our history.

At the cabin, I feel a connectedness to the past and an appreciation for the dear ones no longer here: my dad and grandfather’s favorite chair sits in the shady window, my uncle’s tools hang in the boathouse, my grandmother’s bread pans wait on a shelf.

We will miss the old place this year, but she will welcome our return next summer after we tame this pandemic.

A favorite view of the river as it empties into the bay.

And the discussions and plans for our family place will continue.

At least for now.

It’s a Fine Life.

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We bought one of these in a “tourist shop” when the kids were little. They had a blast swinging at mosquitos.

We bought one of these in a “tourist trap” when the kids were little. They had a blast swinging at mosquitoes.

Our kids also loved Mad-Lib books and had fun with them while traveling.

Always a cabin favorite: jigsaw puzzles.

Puppy Love

I’ve fallen in love again–I’m totally smitten, head-over-heels, crazy-punch-drunk in love with this little fellow: Zippy, our twelve week old Boston Terrier.

Sleeping Zippy. I love this picture.

For the last year, Dennis and I talked about another dog, and Snuggles (our first Boston we loved for many years) had paved a perfect path for another little short-haired darling.

With the shuttering of schools and many businesses, I am now working from home. I suddenly have the appropriate time to properly train and socialize a dog, and we starting looking. With the help of friends, we located a breeder, and now this rambunctious rascal is helping me survive the sadness of social distancing.

According to health experts, pets provide us many health benefits. I have visited many credible online resources and the psychological and physical benefit claims are pretty amazing.

On every site, increased activity is stated as a health benefit. Hmmmm. So far, I can’t say this is true for me. Yes, as soon as he starts sniffing, I am whisking him to the backyard for prompt pottying, but I find I spend much of my morning in pure-puppy-bliss just sitting on my couch with my little fellow tucked next to me. If I had a rocking chair, I swear I would be rocking him like a baby. I know that sounds crazy, but the serotonin release that comes from holding this little guy is similar to how I felt when rocking our babies. (AND the good news is that I am much more rested!)

This is our favorite activity

Stated again and again in the research is how pets bring joy and help to lessen loneliness. Yes, how lonely I have been during this time apart from my family, my friends, my co-workers, my students, and my community. I do feel better since Zippy entered my life. Definitely. He follows me around the house. He helps me pull weeds in the garden. He sleeps at my feet as I work and write. And he sniffs the flowers and watches the birds at the feeders, reminding me of the beauty around me.

(Here’s an odd claim that makes me laugh from the AKC website: having a dog makes you more attractive. Whaaat? Now that’s a stretch, a huge stretch, especially since I haven’t had an appointment with my hair dresser since early March.)

I think we are both lucky to have found each other, and I predict a great future for this relationship.

When Donny sang in 1972 “And they call it Puppy Love. ” I thought he was singing to me about my 7th grade crush. But, when I change the lyrics in the next section, he is crooning to sixty-something me about this love affair with Zippy.

“Oh I guess they’ll never know, how this old heart really feels, and why I love him so.”

Puppy Love.

It’s a Fine Life.

By Kathleen Oswalt Forsythe © May 18, 2020

Zippy is bringing me so much joy during this time of isolation and social distancing.

A Recommended Training Book

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Some of Zippy’s Favorite Chews