Eleanor's new best friend
Saturday, August 16 2003
I live on Dug Hill Road about three miles southwest of downtown Hurley. But I don't know how Dug Hill Road got its name. There's never been much digging along the part of it where I live; the sandstone bedrock lies only about a half inch beneath the surface. Those who changed the topography around my house did so with fill hauled up from the Esopus Valley.
A more appropriate name might be Dog Hill Road, since there seem to be about as many dogs up here as there are people, and the dogs are a lot more visible. They tend to wander around freely and drop in on each other for brief visits, usually in the morning. This morning an orange dog wearing a red bandanna dropped in on Sally and Eleanor. After an initial meeting, Sally retreated indoors and stayed with me on the bed while Eleanor frisked around with the visitor in the yard. About fifteen minutes later Eleanor was still outside, so I went to check up on her. Alarming, she was nowhere to be seen. I called to her, but wherever she was, she didn't respond. This was the first time she'd ever wandered off, and I figured the orange dog must have had something to do with it. Sally and I hopped in the truck and drove up and down Dug Hill Road about a quarter mile in each direction looking for Eleanor, but she'd completely vanished. I began to worry that perhaps the dog catcher had passed through. A dog catcher on Dug Hill Road would want to be driving a schoolbus at the very least.
So I headed out again, this time on a bicycle, with Sally running along behind me. I was really beginning to fret when I saw, off in the distance, a black form racing back and forth in front of a green house (these people were the ones who briefly posted a large sign along the road reading "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS VOTE AGAINST BUSH"). It seems Eleanor had discovered a new friend, a little Jack Russell terrier. That was the gist of what the bemused guy in the door of the green house shouted when I stopped to look. I'm always surprised by how friendly people are to Eleanor considering that she looks like a pure bred Pit Bull. The only person to date who has freaked out about her clunky skull has been my old housemate John.
I had to keep a close eye on Eleanor for much of the rest of the day. For a hour or so she kept heading off in the direction of her new best friend, and I'd have to yell at her and tell her no. To compensate her for the joylessness of being banned from a promising new relationship, I lavished her with attention, giving her treats and presenting her toys with great fanfare.
Later on I took Sally and Eleanor out on an extra-special outing to Fording Place on Esopus Creek. This outing had a partly-medicinal purpose. Somehow - I think it was related to the recent multi-building ethernet installation - I was exposed to Poison Ivy on the Mormonly-white insides of my forearms. The rash has reached a critical size and become an uncomfortable distraction, and I needed to treat it with Jewelweed, a plant that can only be found in riparian areas such as Fording Place.
Because of recent heavy downpours, the Esopus was running much higher than it had been the last time I'd been to Fording Place. There was no way a conventional vehicle (anything short of an Abrams Tank) could have forded the Esopus today. The current was actually so strong that I had difficulty crossing it on foot. But Sally made an impressive show of swimming across the river in both directions. Normally Sally doesn't much like water, but today she was crossing impressive hundred-foot distances without being able to touch bottom, all while fighting massive currents. Eleanor was far more reticent, and I had to carry her out to an island before she experimented with swimming. Mostly she just wanted to snoop around in the bushes on the shoreline. In so doing, I'm sure she came into contact with lots and lots of Poison Ivy.
Since there's very little Poison Ivy around my house, I'd been operating under the delusion that Poison Ivy rashes were now a thing of the past. Indeed, I haven't had an acute rash anywhere near this severe for more than ten years.
The weird white spots at the base of my thumb are the result of scarring from
falling hand-first into a raging bonfire in April, 1996.
The yellowing is the result of applying Jewelweed.
Care for some hamburguesa with your cerveza?
In addition to farm trucks and tractors operated by Mexican migrant workers, today the Esopus Valley seemed to be especially full of vehicles bearing Florida license plates. One such vehicle rolled up to the ford while I was there. The driver - an affable older white man fulfilling the conventional Florida stereotype - asked if people could fish here. I said that it was public right of way - but then I immediately cautioned him not to attempt to ford the river. Based on his reaction, it was clear that he'd left his crazy river fording days behind several decades before; but still he did want to know how to get over to US 209. Based on his preference for crossing the Esopus in Hurley, I recommended Wynkoop Road as opposed to Tongore.
Late this afternoon there was a powerful thunderstorm featuring marble-sized hailstones that accumulated like winter precipitation on the grass. Shredded leaves littered Dug Hill Road.
In the coolness of the storm's aftermath, I took the dogs with me on a drive into Kingston, one not terribly different from the one yesterday. I didn't have to worry about the dogs overheating in the sun, the usual reason I leave them home. I was still trying to keep Eleanor's life sufficiently interesting such that she wouldn't go off and visit that Jack Russell she met this morning.
I let the dogs out to run around at the BMX track on Kingston Point, just north of the Rondout. A cop car rolled through as Sally and Eleanor, both looking like strays in their combined states of leashlessness and collar-freedom. Surprisingly, he did nothing.
Later I sat down and had a cup of iced coffee at the new coffeeshop in the southwest corner of the Rondout. In addition to being a coffee shop, it seems to also be a store in the business of selling knick knacks and a very limited selection of used books. Continuing a fad I picked up recently in Vermont, I sweetened my coffee with maple syrup and encouraged a couple of others to do the same.
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