The Doggie Days of Summer

imageThese beloved animals that accompany us on our excursions bring us companionship, joy and laughter, and they make us smile.

Dogs and summer seem to go hand in hand.  They know how to enjoy the moment, and they live fully in it.

They are present…looking forward to getting to go for a ride in the boat, a swim in the lake, an encounter with a chipmunk, or the meeting of neighbors’ furry friend.

The strong scent of pine is in the air, and I breathe deep of the Northern Ontario fresh air.  It is intoxicating, and I breathe peace.

The Suns’ cheery face slices through the leaves and a “daddy long legs”attempts to crawl along my leg.

The westie walks alongside his master, my Mother, for his morning jaunt watering the bushes on his way.  His happy tail wagging back and forth in happy expectation.

The air is still, and the echo of a distant train rolls over the water, and reminds me of days gone by, and the familiarity of it all    just slows my heart beat a little….

Humber…a dog, a retriever, who seems to be part fish one would think as he waits upon the rock ledge halfway into the depths.

Mark dives in, and slices through the cool blue, and a moment later, his faithful companion is at his side.  Man and dog swimming together.

It’s the simple pleasures, the way the lake instantly cools the sticky sweat from ones’ body, the way it envelops you, and the pure refreshing rejuvenation of it all.

He tosses a stick to the retriever who eagerly stretches out on skilled limbs to find it and return it back.  He cannot help it, his instincts push him forward.  It’s what he was bred to do, and when he is doing what he was created to do…he is fulfilled.

The westie yearns to copy the big dog.  He desires to jump in, to emulate this other dog, but much as the desire is there, he is inhibited… So…he wades gingerly in, up to his knee bones, then quickly jumps back out again!

He woofs to his master, as if to say, ” see me..I can run with the big dogs, are you ever so proud of me?”

imageDogs are so like humans.  Some just leap into life, looking forward, eager for the next step that it may bring, while others of us are more cautious, gingerly stepping , one halting, shaking foot at a time, unsure as to what lies beyond.

We want to feel sure, to not anticipate the sand giving way beneath our timid feet, to feel the security of the solid rock, to be fearless…but the unknown paralyzes us where we stand.

There is the third dog in this scenario.  He is this quiet, older soul, with a thin, knowing face, and dark, gentle eyes, and red/golden fur who looks on.

He is 14, and he knows things.. It is there in his countenance, a knowing, an assurance.  He does not need to prove himself, he accepts that these younger dogs need his guidance, and he is content with this.

He is wise…this Dakota.  The young four year old Humber almost knocks him over multiple times a day, but he is unfazed.

When the dog from down the lake wanders through the screen, and into the kitchen to grab dog treats from the counter, the other dogs just look on, as if to say…”He’s our neighbor, and we are neighborly, so he can dine with us.”  ” He can share in our bounty…we have enough.”

It is utter bliss for these dogs…clearly dog heaven.  It is something that we share.

We swim, we float upon our rafts, we laze in our “Muskoka chairs”, and as the water laps gently beneath us from under the damp dock, we are 1000x’s grateful for this place…and the rich abundance of memories that we have made here.

Summers spent in our youth, learning to waterski, camping out on the rocks in sleeping bags, canoeing  to an island, and cooking “weenies” over an open fire, and the taste of burst marshmallows upon our tongues, no gluten free even on our horizon….ha.

My brother and I took an early morning canoe on the still bay, and he remarked that it had been almost 70 years, 1949 or so, that our Grandpa had decided to buy up this rugged, untamed shoreline , and had envisioned a “cottage life” for his growing family.

How can thank-you ever be enough to express the gift that he gave to his family, and his generations that came after.  We all, have been ever drawn to this place, time and again, and return summer after summer to rekindle our youth, and share time with our families, and redirect our focus once again, to what is treasured, what is true…family.

I sit on the deck and I gaze out upon the sun dappled waters, the sounds of jet skis, ski boats, and the smell of gas fumes invigorate me.

Of course I enjoy the quiet, and the serene…but childrens’ laughter simply cannot hold a candle to it.

To search the depths means to search your soul…can one ever get enough?

Many a pet has enjoyed the cottage ways, and many have passed through this place, just as many loved ones have.  The whispers on the waves tell me that they are still here, among us.  I am comforted by the leaves swaying, the song in the wind.

My Mother shares that her memories  just flood her as she lays back upon the bed she shared with my Father.  His spirit is here, you can feel it.  He would be so pleased to know his family still came here, and that we remembered him here…in his place.

This summer…is our first summer…without her…how can this be?  It’s impossible to accept that she will never again go for a boat ride, dip her cute toes into the lake, and screech with utter delight just to be here.

All you had to say to her was, ” do you wanna go for a boat ride?” And she positively went into orbit.  Her voice just cooed, and her sapphire blue eyes grew wide with eager anticipation.  Best of all was the pink flush to her cheeks, and how her lips would turn down into a sad face if we didn’t get her on that boat pronto!

I don’t think she ever felt sorry for herself…not for a moment.  All she knew is that when her Daddy held her on his lap, or Logan, or Barbara, or me and Zach…she was free.   She flew…no restraints, no time for regrets,..just breakneck speed baby..just bring it!

To say that I miss her is the understatement of my life.  I feel her here, and yet I don’t, and I don’t know what to do with that?  She infused my being…getting to know, and love her was one of the best things in my life.

I see this in her brothers’ faces.  When they saw her diving into life, she inspired them…she inspired and touched so many of us..in her voiceless, incoherent ways…we knew…she loved us…and we are lost without her.

We have a lone “Muskoka chair” that looks out towards the Bay, a quiet cross alongside commemorates a spot for Dad.  Perhaps he and Bianca look down upon us and smile…I hope so…

It is another summer…and we cling to the days, not wanting them to end..knowing they are fleeting…as is life…grab on, and don’t let go…let your raw side show…don’t be afraid…live deeply, honestly, because  inside  all  of us, we all want to be accepted and loved..just for who we are…this is the gift that we have to give.   It costs nothing…but it is priceless when it is given.

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