the neighbors learn the name of the creek
Tuesday, December 1 2020
While I was in the middle of a Microsoft Teams chat, I heard Gretchen losing her mind in the other room. It was our friend Dina, who is a journalist living in Tel Aviv, Isræl, and from the sound of things, she'd just won the Pulitzer Prize. But no, Gretchen was hooting and hollering because Dina had just adopted a rescued labradoodle. This was, I learned later, a big thing in Isræl, where there is no infrastructure for animal adoption. And any pet for Dina and her family supposedly has to be hypoallergenic. (I tend to be skeptical of animal allergies, even though there are some cats that I am allergic to; I generally regard "pet allergies" as sublimated hatred of animals.)
Later Gretchen had plans to meet our downhill neighbors at my stone wall, and she would take them to Georges' farm to show them the ten-foot-tall bluestone globe (which he calls a "cone"). When she got to the wall, though, the neighbors hadn't even left. So she went to meet them closer to their house. Somewhere down in there, the dogs (Ramona & Neville) vanished into the forest, so by the time Gretchen met up with our neighbors, she was dogless. This made things easier on the kids, who are now understandably freaked out about them (given that Neville nipped the middle son on Sunday night; supposedly he'd left a bruise). On the walk to Georges' farm, the kids (all of them wearing blaze-orange knitted hats) kept up a steady stream of questions for Gretchen. Most of these were about Powerful. Does he really live with us? Where did he come from? Gretchen explained that he'd been in prison and that he does indeed live with us now. So then the kids had questions about prison and how it differs from jail. Gretchen had all the answers, though she admitted later that it was a bit exhausting to provide them all.
Meanwhile, both dogs had returned home. When I heard Neville barking, I figured Gretchen and the neighbors were returning. Neville went out the pet door but quickly retreated when he realized it was now raining. But Gretchen had me carry him out so he could apologize to the kid he'd nipped. Neville seemed contrite and a little miserable as I held him in my arms. The kids came closer, but nobody was bold enough to touch him, even though he clearly wasn't in a mood to be nipping anyone.
Gretchen later told me that the kids were excited about all the little temporary streams in the forest after all the recent heavy rains. She'd told them our name for the semi-temporary creek running down the main ravine on our side of Dug Hill Road: "the Mighty Roaring Chamomile." She was sure to pronounce it as we always pronounce it, "Cham-oh-meh-lay," though was quick to add that it was spelled like the tea.
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