Quiet moment at home with Burnsie

I called, “Hi! Come back here!” Roddie paused and looked around. “I—er—I wasn’t going anywhere,” he said with a look of overdone innocence.

“Oh yes you were,” I retorted. “You were going to plunge into the Round Pond, my lad—and it isn’t allowed.”

“But it’s nice, though,” he urged, casting an affectionate glance in the direction of the water. “Why can’t I go in?”

“Because it’s not allowed,” I explained firmly. “No, don’t ask me why it’s not, but there’s a board up there that distinctly says that dogs are not allowed to go in the water.”

“But why?” asked Roddie persistently. “What would happen if I did?”

“You’d get wet,” I said. “No, I don’t mean that, exactly; this is no matter for jesting, my good dog! You can’t go because—well, honestly I don’t know the reason.

“I suppose you might sink a yacht, or scuttle a moor hen or something. Anyhow, if you go bathing anywhere round here except at the Lido—all sorts of things may happen. You’d probably be fined five hundred bones and I should be publicly outlawed, or something.

“So let us get out of the range of temptation while we’re safe. Come along,” and I led the way briskly in the opposite direction; while Roddie, rather subdued by the bone threat, followed behind.

In fact, so nervous did it make him that when we saw a park-keeper approaching Mr. Dhu went and hid behind a tree until he had passed. (Of course, this may have been only a coincidence, but I doubt it.)

However, he soon got over it and became his usual carefree and energetic self, with the result that when we skirted the pond again on our way out he looked so hot that I decided to take a chance.

“Look here,” I said to him, as he looked at me inquiringly with his tongue out, “if you promise not to go right in you can come and have a drink.”

“Oh, good!” he chortled, putting his tongue away. “I’ll be very careful, really,” so we went over to the water and he dived his nose in eagerly.

“Prime!” he snorted, and stepped a little farther forward.

No Dogs Allowed!“No!” I said, and he turned his dripping whiskers towards me. “All right, all right,” he protested. “I’m not going in. Keep calm,” and he proceeded to walk slowly round the sloping edge, with his right feet in the water and his left ones out.

“I’m not bathing, you see,” he explained cheerfully, “I’m walking,” and then suddenly he spotted something in the water.

To me it appeared merely the lid of a small cardboard box, but what Roddie thought it was I can’t say. Anyhow, he stopped, stared at it, and growled. The lid, bobbing gently up and down, came drifting against the bank, and Roddie sprang back with a sharp shout.

Then it bobbed away from him and he advanced, growling. Again the lid, driven by a gently eddy, came bobbing up at him, and once more Mr. Dhu sprang backwards.

Then, as it drifted off, he crouched and made one mighty leap after it—SPLASH!

We haven’t been arrested yet, but that’s not Roddie’s fault.

*Reprinted from the blogger’s book, MacDuffy’s Reader (2007). Story and illustration from C.B. Poultney (1933), licensed by Tartan Scottie from London’s Daily Mail.

Quiet moment at home with Burnsie

Something grabbed my full attention the other day.

I took myself out to a local restaurant for a reward dinner after a sweaty afternoon of weed-whacking at home. I spotted my neighbor, Donny, on my way out. He lives a couple of houses up the road from me, haven’t spoken with him for ages, so the chance encounter at the restaurant was opportunity to catch up.

Donny is an over-the-road trucker, an older single man, and lover of old tractors. Like nearly every other home around me in this historic Tome Land Grant area of the Rio Grande Valley, Donny is Hispanic.

I say Donny is a trucker, but that changed radically two years ago. Following a deadly auto crash, Donny’s adult son was paralyzed from the neck down and Donny retired as stay-at-home care-giver to his quadriplegic son.

I was stunned listening to my neighbor’s account of how, in the blink of an eye, Life turned his world upside down. There was not a twinge of whining in Donny’s voice, no “poor Me!” Just the matter-of-fact story of how, as Wendell Berry says in one of his poems, “we live the life given, not the one planned.”

I said something, I don’t remember what, but left shaken by the stern fact of how fragile we and our plans are. We don’t own a single tomorrow, not even the next breath.

I learned that truth up close and personal in Charlotte’s death five years and eight months ago. But like a kid held back in school, I’m forever relearning the radical fundamentals. I get to live in this body only a short time, only one breath at a time. Therefore nothing can be more important to my soul TODAY than living the dreams and joys in my heart.

So listen up, Readers. If there’s someone you want to hug, someone you’re needing to tell “I love you”; if India or Africa or Hawaii lingers long as place of fascination; if that cruise is an enduring heart’s delight, DO WHAT IT TAKES TO LIVE YOUR DREAM. NOW. Today could be your last. Take action with gratitude and passion to live every TODAY hard and good and fast.

Meantime, I’m heeding my own words. I’ve got to get away from this keyboard, out of my house, and into the sunshine in the driver’s seat of a little joy machine in my garage: a chili red two-seater roadster, the vaaah-rrroooom sound of which makes the Boy in me smile!

Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile