A Dog, a Birch, a Birdsong

I made the appointment with the veterinary clinic, then turned off my cellphone. After months of struggling to make the right decision, reality sank in and nausea overwhelmed me. Our husky Lupin and I had twenty minutes left in our life together.
It was a home visit and Dr. Chip stepped into our kitchen. Lupin had always taken a shine to Chip. As soon as she saw him, she plastered her ears back and went all a’shiver.

Ghosts of a Thought

A turtle the size of a dog bootie laid motionless on the snow-covered trail. Small as it was, it caught the attention of the musher driving her dog team toward the next checkpoint in the race. Soon, other turtles like it appeared, dozens of them.
And the musher began to weep.
She was concerned about returning the turtles to water and the safety of their homes.

Points of Entry

Every so often I find myself biding time behind the steering wheel of an outfitter shuttle parked at an entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It’s kind of like a police stakeout to nab the perp. The shuttle and I lay back and become part of the scenery. The difference is that I’m there to pick up people returning from paddling trips in the wilderness.
If those groups are behind schedule, waiting can last a while.

Close to True

My dad played professional baseball before I was born. When I eventually arrived, I was a captive audience for the colorful stories he’d gild about his career in the minor leagues. As a kid, I was enamored. But over time, my enthusiasm waned and I began questioning the credibility of those stories. Luckily, I experienced a resurgent perspective after coming upon some old news clippings by writers who’d seen him on the ballfield.

Memoirs from a Couch

Detailed woodwork and intricate craftsmanship are signatures of heirloom furniture. I think of antique dressers, designer headboards and ornate dining tables.
I don’t think of couches. They aren’t like that. They wear out. Rare is the beloved couch that’s been handed down for generations. Once they go south, there’s no return short of spendy restoration.

Reciprocal Spirit

I made a purchase that was like a puppy following me home. My investment was a brand-new, eight-horsepower outboard motor. Honestly now, it was insistent that we spend our lives together. Oddly, our relationship began with a flaw from the factory that immediately saved me two-hundred bucks over the counter. Then it became priceless over its lifetime.
The flaw was a cosmetic hiccup—the motor’s cover was mislabeled. Instead of reading eight-horsepower, it said six-horse.

Collaboration of the Realms

I spit into a test tube then sent it through the mail to a laboratory somewhere. When returned, the analysis would supposedly tell me about my ancestry. I don’t profess to know a lot about science nor do I wish to. I’m a words person. I find more fun in bewilderment about how the physical world works.
But I’d been having hunches that my family’s recollections of our history had gone awry. I was told English and German were the dominant influences.

Body Language at the Fair

Body language tells stories at county fairs. It can be gleaned from a distance in silence that engulfs the din of tractor pulls, polka bands, ballgames and the Tilt-a-Whirl.
The reigning demolition derby champ at the county fair had a win-streak five years running. He needed just one more title to become the first ever with six consecutive championships in the same station wagon.
The final two cars in that competition were driven by the champ and a rookie with obnoxious swagger.

A Course of Human Events

Early on a Fourth of July morning, hours before holiday festivities kicked into gear, I met a friend and his children as we walked across the grocery store parking lot. He was at the end of their family procession trooping toward the door. We exchanged local pleasantries about the day ahead, pretty mundane stuff, then went about our business.
I saw him again later that day. But this time, I about did backflips to attract his attention from the porch where I was standing.

The Elements of Hooey

The group of nine parents, siblings, cousins, aunties and uncles endured the arduous twelve-hour drive to the outfitter in northern Minnesota. But the anticipation of backcountry canoeing and camping fueled their resolve. With unshackled enthusiasm, they unpacked, then repacked their gear to prepare for a week of paddling. Two eleven-year-old twin brothers were particularly incapable of containing their fever to get on-trail.
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