Thanks to Moose, the spring escape from my kitchen window has gone to the dogs

JANET'S WORLD

May 20, 2007|By JANET GILBERT

It's springtime, and I remember when the view from my kitchen window was a lovely little backyard tableau of green lawn and swing set, happy tomato garden and sunny marigolds in patio pots. It was a scene that gave me a sense of order and peace. Inside, there might be laundry-basket-shaped wads of permanently creased wash dumped on my bed, an office cluttered with charge cords for every electronic device in our home and a freezer stocked with unidentifiable lumps -- but at least our backyard was lovely, pleasant and inviting.

That kitchen window was a mental "ahhhhh," my escape hatch from the inner turmoil of a middle-aged house with tons of uninspiring jobs that need to be done by its uninspired middle-aged occupants. Still, why focus on the wallpaper that needs replacing or the window frames that need painting or the floor that needs refinishing? The kitchen window is beckoning:

"Come out! Come out right now with a glass of iced tea, and sit in the shade and consider the vivid purple flowers of the redbud tree, and ponder why it is not called the purplebud tree because that's a far more accurate, suitable name for the tree. But I guess when you think about it, the dogwood tree doesn't resemble a dog in any way, so whoever gets to name trees must be allowed to take certain liberties, but at least not as many as the people on perpetual acid trips who name nail polish colors things like `buttered bubble gum.'"

At least, that's what my kitchen window was saying to me this time last year.

Just a few moments ago, I realized that my window now looks out on what many would consider sheer devastation and destruction; a lumpy landscape of ruts and chewed sticks and scratched-off lawn patches exposing muddy swaths and a multitude of treacherous hidden holes, all wrought by our extremely troublesome, disruptive and beloved dog, Moose.

Indeed, in a few short weeks, it seems our backyard has been transformed into the official obstacle course for the Marine Corps Dog Training Unit. Only the few and the proud of the dog species can navigate our backyard at this point.

But that's just the way Moose likes it.

Clearly, it amuses him: He enjoys seeing us go down like "whack-a-moles" beaten by some unseen hammer when we suddenly drop to our knees after hitting a hidden ditch en route to the garden.

Obviously, he is doing his dog best to get to China, the old-fashioned way, by digging. From the looks of it, he's had a few false starts. Yet he is naturally doggedly determined. This is exacerbated by the fact that Moose is not particularly patient. If, after about 45 seconds, he is not seeing signs of the emergence of the continent of Asia in one area of the yard, he moves swiftly to another and starts afresh.

A side benefit to the digging is the ever-present, fragrant crust of freshly clawed dirt caked in his paws and dusted on his nose. Moose must like it; he regularly brings it inside, transferring it to all of us, as well as the carpeting and furniture.

We recently bought him a plastic toddler pool for $2 at the annual Allenford neighborhood yard sale, and, believe me, this adds a new dimension of mud fun to the topography. Moose likes to take a dip, and then roll around in the grass clippings, and then maybe dig some more, and then repeat approximately 500,000 times. By the end of the day, everything is mud-streaked, and the scent of "Eau de Howard County Clay" is everywhere. It's dog heaven.

Which makes it lovely, I suppose, in an entirely different way. After all, life is all about how you view things out your kitchen window.

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