on the shelf with the others
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 line—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.