Friday, July 23, 2010

on the shelf with the others

I opened the door of the cab and let Gibson sail out into the back field at Orvis. He's not a puppy anymore, at least not physically. He now stands almost as tall as Annie, with gangly legs and an ostentatious tail. He loped down through the tall dew-soaked grass till he hit the fish pond. Then jumped in with a splash, lunged out with a shake, took a dump and trotted the football field's distance back to the car. He was covered in dirt, pond water, dew, mud, and panting like a runaway. He shook and his tongue spilled out. What a little monster.

It was a little after 7 AM. I'm usually at the office to run and shower before the 8AM workday starts. I look just as rough as him at that hour, and don't even think about mascara till I'm done with my morning mile. As I was loading him into his crate in the back of the truck, I saw a coworker walking to his pickup with a little ball of fluff in his arms. Dear lord, it was a 9-week-old Australian Shepherd pup. I melted.

I scooped up the pup, congratulated the owner, and tried to remember when G was that small. I know that photographic evidence exists, but my black-and-white blur is now 34-pounds at four months. He's lean, curious, and will hopefully turn into a fine farm dog. But all that fluffy innocence is gone. Gibson is a clever mess. He's figuring out how to get what he wants and goes for it. Food on the table: chomp. Bunny behind the bike in the barn: chase. Pond at the bottom of the hill: splash. But I can't complain. He comes when he's called. He sleeps in my lap in the truck. He goes to the bathroom outdoors. He stares at sheep. He's great. Still, I stole myself. I cradled the little guy in my arms and inhaled puppy.

Dogs are perfect.

Fridays are optional half days at my office. If you put in an extra hour Monday through Thursday you can leave at noon on Friday. This week I took advantage of the program for a sexy afternoon at the Washington County DMV. I stood in line and stared at the much-needed rain. My brain thinks like a farmer now. Did that guy on McMillan road cover his round bales? Did he pull them in before this came? What a waste if he didn't... I thought about how I didn't have to water the garden. I worried about flies on the sheep. I paced in line a little. I hate lines.

When I finally got my turn I realized I filled out the wrong forms and didn't have a copy of my birth certificate. No new license for me. However, myy truck had all the necessary paperwork to become a New Yorker, even if I didn't. I was asked if I needed passenger or commercial plates for my truck. I had no idea, and asked what she meant. She said if I ever planned on advertising a home business I would need commercial plates. They were five dollars more. I ponied up the cash. Who knows, maybe Cold ANtler Farm will be slapped to the side of the Ford someday. I paid a ridiculous amount of money for two blue and gold plates, and drove home in the rain storm. It felt weird being without a dog. All three were at home. The ride was boring. Life without a dog out the passenger-side window might smell better, but it is fate too sad to even consider.

When I got home to the farm I pulled off the green plates. This was a little sad, but sad only in that suggested way people tell you should be sad. When I moved to New York so many Vermonters who knew me asked, "You're really going to give up your green plates?" They're more than car stamps: they're a lifestyle and a personal choice. I shrugged. It's not where you live, it's how you live. The entire notion that is the state line between Vermont and New York is less than a dozen generations. There is furniture in people's houses older than either state. I'm not attached to what color my plates are or where my mail is delivered. I am attached to my Northeastern Octobers, crows, dogs, fireflies, thunderstorms, and borrowing a small piece of land for a while to grow food and grow up. If a firefly can cross the state lineā€”so can I. Glow where you are, damnit.

The green truck plates are on a shelf with the Tennessee and Idaho ones. They are lined up by a window where the light hits them and I remember things like Elkmont, Caribou Lake, and the Great Ox Roast.

So it goes. May the New York memories begin.


Blogger Judy said...

Those blue and gold plates are soooo ugly! I opted not to get them when I renewed my registration. Welcome to New York State! Home of the 4 month late state budget that still has not passed!!! The beautiful Adirondack Mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Catskill Mountains, etc. etc. make it worth it to live here!

July 23, 2010 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

While there is something cool about the Green Mountain State green plates, NY has the right to farm law. That makes the transition worth it. I've noticed the new NY gold and blue plates. Kind of a throw back to the old days as I remember those plates from the 50's and 60's.

July 23, 2010 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

So don't miss the N.Y DMV!!!!! But, as Judy pointed out, it's a small price to pay for the beauty of it all! May you make many happy memories there!


July 23, 2010 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

I'm looking forward to the day I can get my own car plates :-)

July 23, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

So many pieces of perfect here.

I love the smell of puppies. Babies? Not so much.

"It's not where you live, it's how you live.... Glow where you are, damnit."

Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks Jenna!

July 23, 2010 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

I'm collecting verbal gems from CAF and dropping them randomly on my friends. Today's keeper: "Glow where you are, dammit,"

July 23, 2010 at 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I carry my little journal with me everywhere, not to write in like a diary, but to take notes on things I read/see, jot down ideas and creative inspiration (I'm an artist), to write down books I hear of so that I can look for it in the library down a favorite quote.

"Glow where you are, damnit" just went down in my book as one of my favorite quotes. I make eco-friendly greeting cards and can't wait to use your quote (with your credit to it, of course)!

You're the reading you every day! :)

July 24, 2010 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger Thistledog said...


July 24, 2010 at 12:14 AM  
Blogger Geek 3000 said...

I miss my lab. He was my companion working dog. I'm going to get another one, but you know timing and all. So next week I'm coming out to the Sacandaga, which is over an hour from you guys. And while we won't likely make the trip, family obligations, it feels kind of cool to know you are so close by. I live in washington state so it feels like your backyard. And as you are the only person I know, virtually, in upstate New York, it feels kind of nice. Funny how reading a blog can make you feel just like friends!

July 24, 2010 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger ChrisJ said...

Oh the description of Gibson and the puppy is just perfect! You write so well. Here am I begging for a kitten because I'm absolutely way too soft over dogs and you write about Gibson.
Sigh...doesn't look like I'm going to get my kitten either.

July 24, 2010 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

i love the blue and gold plates!

July 24, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger sloejennfizz said...

I don't think I have posted anything here before but have been reading for awhile. I just saw an artisan cheese tour happening that I think is close you to & immediately thought, "Hey I wonder if Jenna knows about that". Blogs are a strange, once sided thing aren't they? Here's the link if your interested

July 24, 2010 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Don't worry, when we get the 12' high wall erected around the state to keep out Mass and Jersey, we will give you a pass card to get back in. :)

Enjoy, I love that part of the State. Anything north of westchester is truly another state. I went to school in Potsdam, only place I've been colder than the Kingdom in Vermont

July 24, 2010 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger birdland said...

Funny how we humans have such a strong need to attach to place. Funny how something like a license plate can validate that for some folks. Love the commentary on Glow Where You Are. I think that would be a great license plate slogan for some free thinking state with advanced notions on boundaries, or a great, communal message for the insect kingdom to adopt. Sort of like "Some Pig" in Charlotte's web.

In Barbara Kingsolver's last book she described driving on a dark, rural road in the Amish countryside and having her host pull over, park and shut the headlights off. After a minute he blinked the headlights. All of the fireflies, simultaneously, blinked back.

Which is damned awesome and if I ever see this phenomenon, I believe I will see, or sense, or remember Glow Where You Are.

July 27, 2010 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Rose, aka whorlwindweaver said...

You have the right attitude. Personally, I think Vermont has become just a little too gentrified. Upstate New York has a true rural feeling. Of course, when you say you are from New York, people automatically think of The City and can hardly believe there is a whole different world up where the Hudson begins. It is annoying. I've occasionally just told people I'm from Northern Maine because I'm tired of the assumption.

July 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home