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As kids, we skated across
Iridescent, frozen ponds
And pretty Sherman Lake,
All 200 acres, two miles long.
We’d pack a canvas tote bag,
Bring hot thermoses of cocoa,
Join other families, play tag,
Crack-the-whip, or skate solo.

My dad pulled my little brother, Tad,
In a sled, while I attempted figure eights,
Even though I was only seven, I felt agile
And athletic in my ice skates. I’d graduate
To wearing Velcro pond-skates by thirteen.
One year an older boy fell through the ice
(It wasn’t deep) After his family saved him,
Everyone else kept skating, just avoid the hole
And warnings of thin ice near the dam.

I glided over deep, vertical cracks;
Didn’t linger long to peer down and react,
But dared myself to push into the unknown,
My cheeks flamed magenta from frostbite.
I’d picture the Olympic figure skaters glittery gowns
When they jumped into a spin and danced around,
As I made “Ls” to pivot and propel my purple parka
Into loose, wobbly turns, tilting my curly head back
To see the cold, boundless winter sky, ‘til I got dizzy,
Dug my toe-pick in a nick to regain my balance,
But tripped anyway, then got back up again,
Mitten-to-elbow-to-knee, bruised but not broken.

Twenty years later, a rogue tidal surge
Took the dam out by force; then a team
Of civil engineers, and road crews, merged
The river with the marsh, so the lake emptied
Into the ocean for the first time in 71 years.
The sudden shift in the landscape ricocheted,
Shocking locals, whose lake they knew,
Where they’d put in canoes, and fished—
For decades, had been restored
To a saltmarsh, naturally; it just
Reverted to that system eventually.

If you’d been a fly on the wall,
Heard the talk at the town hall,
You’d have believed it was a disaster.
But it’s the destiny of waters to change,
To transform over time from one
Body to the next, from wetland to pond
To lake, then to marsh again,
Shape the wet soils,
Crackle the saltgrass
Along shallow creeks,
Flow through channels
Fifteen feet deep,
Smallmouth bass, splake
And minnow
Play hide and seek, flash
Rays of sunlight
Calling the eagles
Back to the pines
To build their nest
And raise their chicks.

LCS

SaintStatueLately it seems that I’ve been doing far more editing and texting than I have been writing. Not good. I’ve taken photos, collected snippets and story ideas over the past several months. In between blog posts, I usually write in my journal and let ideas percolate.  This has been a big trend in September (letting things percolate). Since the air has turned unseasonably cool prematurely, I haven’t been swimming either, not since early in September. Instead, I’ve hiked a mountain a few times, explored a sunken garden and prayed at the feet of a pregnant statue of Saint Guadalupe. More on this subject later (there’s a story behind this.)

I’m on deadline with the National Wetlands Newsletter but wanted to post something here to mark this period of …”busy work” – and the need to make up for it later. If you’re a writer and reading this, how do you make time to write? What have you found that really works?  In the meantime, I’m pretty happy. Work is keeping me on my toes, I’ve had new French doors installed for the patio entrance and I’ve gotten to spend time with close friends, including a trip to Simsbury, CT for my best friend’s baby shower. (Perhaps there was something in that wish and prayer I made on the statue of the pregnant saint! My friend certainly made out like a bandit at the shower.)

A new dress that my birthday twin gave me.

A new dress that my birthday twin gave me.

I started my new job as Editor of the National Wetlands Newsletter at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. It’s exciting. I’m busy setting up my new home office, getting technical things sorted out and underway with the summer issue. My trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington was a treat. The cherry blossoms had already bloomed and dropped but it was still very pretty, though the air was thick with pollen. I developed crazy allergies that I had never before experienced.  Still, it was great to visit D.C. and get to know my new colleagues…and attend the event at the U.S. Botanic Garden on the evening of the new moon eclipse in Taurus (5/9).  ELI hosted its annual National Wetlands Awards ceremony at the Garden in its beautiful conservatory. The Hawaii exhibit was my favorite.

The National Wetlands Awards program, created nearly 25 years ago, recognizes professionals and landowners alike in wetlands conservation, protection and restoration. The stories are quite moving. When the new website for the NWA program is up and running, and I’ll have a little to do with that, since I will be the new manager of the wetlands awards program, I will post a link. In the meantime, there’s information on the existing webpage here about the program in general. The 2013 award winners’ photos and stories will be posted next week. May is American Wetlands Month, so there are a number of events happening all over the country. For ideas and to learn more, go here. 

Tonight I cooked a fiddlehead pizza.  The fiddleheads are local (from somewhere here in the Sebago Lakes Region, Maine) and the pizza has spinach, pesto, feta, kalamata olive and tomatos topping it. IMG_1818

Designing an Info-graphic

My latest wetland wordle

I like that it makes an accidental poem:

Blue poet teaching
Bog ecology, natural
Rivers written, surface
Fish, fens–emergent:
I guide the swamp,
Swim the freshwater life
Write mucky wetland poems
Birth marsh animals–
Heron, eels, fish
Water lilies, plants
The nature of lakes
Aquatic biology
Human streams.

Sweet fern

Sweet fern, not a true fern

Last week in the midst of meetings and deadlines, I slowed down long enough to learn how to identify northeastern wetland ferns. I participated in a Swamp School webinar and after the training, I earned a certificate. Since I’ve written about ferns a few times for my Strange Wetlands series, I thought I better check myself, before I made a fern faux pas. And as it happens, I was wrong about one plant: sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina)  is a member of the heath family, not a true fern.

The “Swamp Seminar” on wetland ferns started with the parts of a fern. Prior to this class, I knew to refer to the fern frond, which is the whole fern leaf, and I knew that rhizomes are the roots, but the rest of a fern’s morphology–well, that was new to me. It was fascinating to learn that a fern might be identified based on whether it is once, twice or thrice pinnate–meaning, the number of cuts on the pinna, or leaflet. Lady Fern, a common fern that grows in my “Fern Gully” at Nixie’s Vale, is three-times pinnate with a rough-edged leaflet, making it look lacy – the Victoria’s Secret brand of ferns. Other ferns have similarly feminine names like Venus Hair Fern (Adiantum capillus‐veneris) and Northern Maiden-Hair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), or Maiden-Hair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), which grows near waterfalls.  How lovely.

North Maid Hair Fern

Northern Maiden-Hair Fern

For wetland professionals, the training also addressed whether each fern is an Obligate Wetland species, meaning that it always occurs in a wetland, also known as a hydrophyte (loves water); a Facultative Wetland species, which means that the fern usually shows up in a wetland, but can also be found in upland areas; or, thirdly, it may be a Facultative species, commonly occuring in both wetland and upland areas. Ferns that fit this last category–facultative, are still important to know because they may help someone identify the edge of a wetland. Identifying wetland plants is fairly complex. See this USDA page on wetland indicator information, if you are curious. If by any chance, you’re a real wetland plant enthusiast, I encourage you to check out this presentation on the newly revised national wetland plant list, which is run by the Army Corps of Engineers. 

 

NWPL

National Wetland Plant List

Among the many types covered in the training, I learned how to identify Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), Fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis) and Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana), which I’m pretty sure I’ve spotted in Fern Gully. I have my notes to take into the field this spring when the fronds unfurl like fiddleheads and I can go on a fern ID scavenger hunt. The Swamp School webinar included access to an online tool kit, which allows me to reference handouts–and to get my certificate. I found the website and webinar training well-organized and jam-packed with knowledge and inspiration. I really enjoyed this class.

For those who are interested, Swamp School also offers classes on wetland delineation–in both classroom, field and webinar formats with live, interactive training. Marc Seelinger is the founder–and he’s a terrific instructor, too.  Right now he’s got a series of wetland delineation classes posted on the SwampSchool.org website, but there are also webinars and workshops on occasion. After all, inspiring minds want to know.

Grampa

Bob Chaplin

I grew up visiting my maternal grandparents in rural New Gloucester, Maine.  Their yellow farmhouse, barn and a hilly pastoral land, rich with streams, wetlands, meadows, fields and forest, was a wonderful place to play and explore.  As the eldest grandchild, I got to spend a lot of time there in (late ’70s-’90s). My grandfather tinkered in his barn and workshop, and when I was lucky, he built things I designed as a little girl, like a wooden key and lock for an imaginary mansion, a mossy ledge hidden in the woods beyond the upper field and vegetable gardens. (I still have this wooden lock and key.) He took my hand-drawn designs on scrap paper and made the wooden key and lock with his skill-saw, taking this sort of request seriously. Then I took this colorfully painted lock and key, and used it to enter magical worlds of moss and meadow. A perennial stream meandered between fields, along with vernal pools and a freshwater marsh, near land he later gave to his son (my favorite uncle) a little ways down the road. The 30+ acres beheld a wellspring for inspiration. (I’ll have to hunt for some photos of their land and add those later.)

A tall, athletic Scorpio, Grampa was a multi-talented Navy man and 32nd degree Mason. As an engineer, he wrote the book on metal removal technology. He was interviewed in Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine in 2005 about his book, Metal Removal Technology, which has since been integrated as a text book in mechanical engineering programs. I remember when I was in grade school, and my Grampa was drafting early versions of his book. He let me play with copies of his draft, thinking I’d be interested in drawing pictures on the blank side. To his surprise, I was far more interested in the side with charts, diagrams and formulas—all that he had devised for teaching employees at General Electric and engineering students in universities. I liked to take these “metal removal technology” spreadsheets on a clipboard with me to elementary school, where I told my classmates I was “working for my grandfather’s company,” and used a highlighter to “go over the numbers.” A few of my third-grade classmates asked me if he was hiring.  I shrugged and told them, “it depends on your qualifications.”

As a long-time musician, he encouraged all of his grandchildren to take up an instrument (or two). I fear I may have disappointed him, as I could never get the hang of the trombone, clarinet, piano or guitar. (Poetry turned out to be my instrument.) Long before I came into the picture, my grandfather led a band, the “Bob Chaplin Orchestra,” which performed throughout Massachusetts in the 1940s. He played lead clarinet. There wasn’t a musical instrument he couldn’t play, and he taught music for many years in Portland, Maine. Several of his students went onto join metropolitan philharmonic orchestras. He composed music in the jazz and Big Band Swing genres in the ’40s and later, composed chamber music for churches in Maine.

Bob Chaplin, or “Grampa,” as I called him, also served on his town’s planning board over the years (late 1960s-early 1990s).  In the 1980s and early ‘90s, he chaired the Comprehensive Plan Committee in New Gloucester, not far from where I live and work. The comprehensive plan cited the “single most important issue was the protection of brooks, streams, wetlands and groundwater,” based on surveys conducted in 1982. His committee’s emphasis on protecting water resources in the rural town only grew stronger in the decades that followed, and more of the town’s wetlands and floodplains were mapped. In this sense, he and his committee were visionaries.  As I become more involved with local projects for my town’s conservation commission, I’m realizing that this civic interest might be inherited. Aside from a passion for protecting wetlands, I also inherited my grandfather’s love for music. Earlier today I posted a piece on classical music, inspired in part by Suzanne Nance’s morning classical music program on Maine Public Radio.

As a side note, I was thrilled that Suzanne Nance mentioned my blog and ASWM this morning (Jan. 18, 2013) on her program. She dedicated this morning’s program to “Leah Stetson and her Strange Wetlands blog,” –and this morning’s theme on her radio show was “Warmer Temperatures and Wetlands.” She played several of the pieces that I wrote about in my blog post, including In the Fen Country, a symphonic impression composed by Ralph V. Williams (1935). See Strange Wetlands: Lutes & Lily Pads: Classical Music Inspired by Wetlands. 

In the trend of the Eat-Pray-Love readers’ take on “what’s your word” for the new year, I’ve been thinking of my word. At first, I thought of “regeneration.” But I shortened it.

Lena-Sokol-Water-SnakeLena-Sokol-Water-Snake2013 is the Year of the Black Water Snake.  When looking for images of the Water Snake Year, my favorite is on Mystic Medusa’s blog, depicting a snake with blue scales (at left, Lena Sokol illustration).  In Chinese astrology, the color black is sometimes expressed in blues (usually dark or deep hues), which is sometimes missed by graphic designers working on tee shirt ideas.  That’s why wearing black or blue clothing in 2013 is considered favorable for some of the animal signs, including those of us born in snake years.  Just as 2012 was marked as both “black,” the color that symbolizes unpredictability and mystery, and the element of water, we are entering a new year of deep transformation. Water snake years have historically been associated with revolutions and uprisings, such as the 9/11 attacks, during a water snake year (2001). The unpredictability of a “black” year and the changes associated with water snake years also include accidents, oil spills, plane and train crashes/accidents and tragedies. Geomancer Paul Ng breaks down predictions for different regions of the world, the economy, health and industries/business, as well as individual horoscopes for everyone’s Chinese animal sign, in his predictions for the Year of the Black Water Snake. Ng predicts it will be a year of conservation. And of course, there will be an emphasis on water.

Ever since the 6th grade, I’ve looked forward to my 36th year. As an adolescent, I got attached to the idea of all of the wonderful things I imagined myself doing at the age of 36. I’m not sure why I picked 36. A child of the ‘70s Star Wars generation, I was born during the Year of the Fire Snake. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few things about Chinese astrology. For instance, I’ve learned that Snake was a goddess and a healer, who had the ability to transform into a beautiful woman. This Snake goddess icon in ancient Chinese mythology was charming, well-loved and popular, not at all demonized as serpents have been depicted in western folklore. Snake, in the form of a woman, fell in love with a scholar, and married him. Apparently, the snake’s natural element is fire, but it also contains the element of earth. Water snake years are yin female years, which gives them a gentle quality. Fire snake years are more confrontational, and those born in fire snake years, more argumentative. (I can’t argue with that.)

My step-dad, Michael, would have turned 60 this year. Like me, he was a Snake in the Chinese zodiac, but he was a water snake. (My mother is a water dragon. They say that people fall in love with another whose element blends well with one’s own.) In reading about the water snake years, the law and legal profession come into the mix, and my step-dad was a regulatory lawyer. He was also a gentle person, a musician, gardener and athletic swimmer. He passed away in 2011. I miss him. He and I shared an interest in astrology, feng shui, mysticism and poetry, and of course, a shared love for swimming in lakes, rivers, the ocean. He was born under the water sign of Scorpio; I’m a Pisces. Transformation is a favorite theme among Scorpios. One year in college, after taking (and bombing) a class on Goddesses, for which I wrote a paper on the role of poetry in goddess worship (and apparently did not make a compelling argument), I remember talking with Michael about transcendentalists and transformation. I think I passed along my text book to him…a book on enlightenment. (He was also a Buddhist.)yearofsnake

2013 is not only the Year of the Snake, but also contains the “wooden tiger,” which sets up some tension because there is usually conflict between Snake and Tiger. However, from what I’ve gleaned in reading about it, those with Tiger as one of their Four Pillars of Destiny may see some extraordinary events this year. In my case, I was born in a tiger month. You can get your Four Pillars of Destiny chart (for free) at this website easily. There are plenty of alternatives, such as Astrology.com, that also provide this information for free, and some of them offer more of an explanation than others. Once you know those four animal signs, it’s more fun (and helpful) to read predictions for the coming year. Another fun website I found defines the all-important “Day Master,” part of the Four Pillars chart. In my case, my “Day Master” is the metal pig. Oddly enough, when I was a child, I had a collection of small pig and cat figurines. (The Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac is alternatively called the Cat.)

Pillars of Destiny Sample

Pillars of Destiny Sample

There’s a lot more to it, if you’re interested. For example, if you’re curious about your financial fortunes for 2013, you’d have to learn your “money star,” which is determined based on the element conquered by your “Day Master.” (Is it just me, or does this sound like convoluted video game rules?) Metal overcomes wood, as in the image of an axe chopping through a tree branch. So the element of wood ties to my so-called money star. Those interested in feng shui may already be familiar with this notion. If I wanted to improve my money luck, I’d strengthen the wood elements within my home. Good feng shui:  I have hardwood floors and a healthy flow of chi. Bad feng shui:  rotten wood on my porch and two dying houseplants. See more on feng shui and improving money luck in the home.

Among the predictions for the Year of the Black Water Snake, most of the astrologers recommend going at a “snake’s pace,” and given the water influence, adopting a “go with the flow” attitude.  Water snake years are associated with long-distance travel, especially by train and sea.  Any industry that deals with water resources or earth (think environmental sciences, wetlands management) should do well, especially in areas that deal with science, research, scholars/study and technology.  Seeking wisdom, introspection and delving into serious study, or any type of education, are characteristic of snake years.  (See a typical overview for the Year of the Water Snake.)  Those working in the entertainment industry should do well, too, since the Snake is an entertainer. Unfortunately, “black water” presents us again with possible disasters, akin to what we saw in 2012, also a black water year.  Hopefully the female yin nature of the Snake will be gentle, and the disasters will be on a much smaller scale, and fewer!  In the Chinese zodiac, the Snake is also known as “Little Dragon,” so the effects of a snake year tend to be smaller than those experienced during a dragon year.  That’s a relief! At a deeper level, for those born in the year of the Snake, transformation will be a strong theme. It’s time to shed one’s skin.

Thus, my word for 2013 is regenerate. 

The Chinese New Year is in early February. Technically speaking, the Chinese calendar begins on February 4th but the celebrations won’t be until later. February always marks the start of a new year for me because it’s my birthday month. I expect those born in other months may feel similarly about their birthday months signaling a new beginning. Now off to do something about those sad plants in the kitchen…

Playing Swamp Maiden by the Sheepscot. Margaret Stewart photo.

My love for the water spawned at the mouth of the Sheepscot River in midcoast Maine. But like the eels and salmon, I swam upstream and came of age in not one, but two watersheds. One, an estuary in Wiscasset Harbor, nourished by the Sheepscot, swallowed incoming tides from the Gulf of Maine. My family owned a half-acre island, White’s Island, at the center of this estuary, where I waded and swam through eel grass, sharp as steak knives turned on their edges. I wore petticoats of rockweed and floated in hot black inner tubes. The current raced beneath the first footbridge to the island threatening to take a swimmer under the trestle bridge of the railroad, where young swimmers weren’t supposed to go. The undertow was strong and there was always a risk of drowning. My paternal grandmother taught me how to save someone from drowning in that fast-moving current. She pretended to drown herself, sinking heavily to the muddy bottom. I dove down deep to rescue her. When I had done this successfully a few times, we crawled to the riverbank and she cackled with delight. Treading against that current took all my energy in frigid saltwater, even in summer. It required a combination of kicking and letting go—as I floated backward in fast-forward motion—then paddled again.

At White’s Island, 1987

Further inland, I learned to swim out deep in Little Sebago Lake. As a young girl, I swam with the eels at night and seduced them with my flashlight. My brother and I perched at the end of the dock, shining our lights down into the water, luring the eels to our beams. Their sinuous profiles cast shadows on the rippled sandy bottom like slithering heads of Medusa. Our maternal grandmother, whom we called Nana, let us swim at night. Sometimes we asked our grandfather to splash around and make the eels go away, but they came back. These American freshwater eels, which live in the ocean at the beginning and end—their silver stage of development—migrate to lakes, where they live for much of their lives. For my Strange Wetlands post about eels, see this post, in which I review James Prosek’s book, Eels–An Exploration from New Zealand to the Sargasso, the World’s Most Amazing & Mysterious Fish. 

Several towns surround this three-basin freshwater lake, including Windham, Gray and Raymond, Maine. The “Lakes Region” here refers to the Sebago Lake watershed, consisting of 360 square miles of lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands. Streams and tributaries, like the Crooked River, flow into Sebago Lake, an inflow of 450 million gallons per day. Sebago Lake is twelve miles long and over 300 feet deep, holding 995 billion gallons of water, providing the #1 source of clean drinking water for much of southern Maine, including the city of Portland.  Sebago is the deepest lake in New England—and glacially speaking, the bottom of the 14,000-year-old lake basin is 450 feet below the lake’s surface. The Portland Water District chronicled the origins of Sebago Lake in their summer 2012 newsletter. According to geological analysis of sediment samples, Sebago Lake has been a “clean and healthy lake for the past 400 years.” It’s one of the few water bodies in the U.S. that does not require filtration. It’s also home to salmon and trout fisheries.

I live in the land of “landlocked salmon,” or so says the welcome sign on Route 302, the main road through the Lakes Region. This land is a water world. Before you start picturing a post-apocalyptic movie with pirate ships, hold your breath: this is a freshwater-focused community. The economy, culture, traditions and values lay anchor in this watershed. Recently I started coordinating a new coalition of town conservation planners and those interested in the common goal of protecting the waters of the Lakes Region with special interest on the Sebago Lake watershed. I named it the Healthy Waters Coalition well aware of the dozens of other collaborative groups throughout the country engaged in water resources protection and outreach education by the same name. With so many land trusts, conservation groups and town conservation commissions and local nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations active in southern and western Maine, and throughout the Lakes Region, I wanted a name that was authentic to the common interest and shared goals, without alienating any one type of group. It’s a grassroots effort to inform and educate citizens in the region on issues pertinent to water resources protection and management in the Sebago Lake watershed. So far there are 30 members and a general consensus of our goals and mission going ahead. I’m happy to be involved in the spirit of collaboration ~ and will be sure to bring the role of wetlands into the conversation quite often.

After reading a blog today about someone’s plan to buy/adopt a puppy at a pet store, I remembered how happy I was to adopt an adult dog from a rescue organization in August 2009. Earlier that summer I had moved into my new home, Nixie’s Vale, which I had chosen with the big yard, long driveway and nearby walking trails all in mind…for a dog. I had volunteered in animal shelters in upstate NY back in college–and promised a bunch of cats and dogs, including a one-eyed, one-legged dog, that I would one day adopt an adult dog, rather than get a puppy. I waited 12 years to honor that promise. This is my first-ever dog owning experience.

Rescue dogs, or shelter dogs, can have special needs. A vet will tell you that some rescue dogs have been abused, abandoned or neglected, or mistreated by their previous owners. (Kids, in particular, can be cruel, and few adults  like to admit their little kids were mean to the family dog.) Keeping this in mind, adopting a rescue dog often conjures up images of dogs that bite, act possessively or high strung around strangers. I’ve met people with rescue dogs at the beach–and for the most part, the dogs got along well with my rescue dog, and there weren’t any problems. One out of every 10 rescue dogs I meet, however, have owners with “issues” about their choice in dog, or at least, some negative feelings (regret, nervousness, disappointment) in their risky rescue experience not going as smoothly as they had dreamed.

I found my pointer-dachshund, Sophie-Bea, on Petfinder.com. She was named “Bea” then and listed with an organization called Paws n’ Claws, based in Maine. But…as it turned out, she was not in Maine but in Arkansas! Hmmm. I read her little story about having been rescued off the side of a highway in Hot Springs and that she needed a  home. (She and her heinous sister had been abandoned together and the ugly wiry sister got adopted right away.)  They guessed “Bea” to be somewhere between 1-2 years, and my vet later reviewed the paperwork and said she was a little over a year by the time I adopted her. (That means she’s now about 4. )  The Petfinder.com description left out that she was part dachshund. It said “pointer mix,” which I falsely assumed to mean pointer-English pointer, some mix of two types of pointer. Once I arranged for her transport to Maine, the paperwork forwarded by the Arkansas vet indicated a good reason for why she didn’t look like a typical pointer.  Nevertheless, when she swam in the lake with me for the first time, jumping off the end of the dock and swimming out deep to join me, I fell in love and knew she was the right dog, despite her weird & unexpected mix.

Yoga

This odd mix gives her the personality of a female Snoopy but without the beagle traits. Her pretty “hot dog dog” face and long body are hard to shop for (practically speaking, orange hunting vests, not Halloween costumes) since she’s only 37 pounds but tall like a gundog. It’s her dachshund side that’s her “bad girl” side. As I type this, she hopped up next to me on the couch and I had to ask, “why does your breath smell like poo?” Argh.

Such is the life of a dog owner. (Now my dog is rolling onto her back, insisting that I pet her belly, and kicking like a four-year-old kid.) For the most part, I think she’s well-behaved. When I take her places, to swim, to walk, to play with other dogs (or kids), I feel proud when I hear people (strangers!) say out loud, “wow, that dog is so gentle with the kids,” or “I wish our dog was like that. This dog is so sweet, so well-behaved.” They don’t see her stealing the kindling from the stock by the woodstove and making a mess of sticks in her doggie bed or stealing a turkey carcass off the family’s kitchen counter on leftover day.

Team effort

Hey, it wasn’t JUST her. My brother’s dog was in on it. But my dog was most likely the instigator. She’s the master of invention when it comes to breaking the rules. Once, when a porcupine was in the yard, I figured all was well since my dog was inside. Not so. My dog rocket-launched herself through a window to dispatch the porcupine, and got 30 quills in the face for her trouble. That required a midnight trip to the vet for sedation and extraction…but she learned. The next time the porcupine was in the yard, and Sophie-Bea saw it (outside this time), she growled at the porcupine and came running back to me in a tizzy. I guess she was wearing her smart hat that day. And I managed to scope out the big hulking porcupine–climbing a tree like an ape.

Fast friends

Since adopting Sophie-Bea, I’ve learned that personality of a dog is the most important factor in choosing the right dog for a household. I’ve seen people adopt the wrong breeds/personalities for their lifestyle and it’s a sorry situation for the dog. I used to daydream about one day adopting a husky mix but my vet convinced me that wasn’t the right breed for my personality. Now I can agree with her…but there was a time when I argued in favor of a husky. They are beautiful dogs. But I lucked out with this funny pointer-dachshund, and I have to admit that I never would have considered her had I known about the dachshund part. It’s the side that makes her affectionate, persistent, sneaky …and clever. And able to jump 8 feet into the air and flip like a circus performer.

Dream analysis

It all comes down to the doggie basics: what she likes to do, what she needs, and what I can provide for her:  exercise, nutritious meals, rewards, love, shelter, companionship, discipline, er, I mean, routine, heck, a relatively diverse set of activities.  She makes friends easily. She likes to nap and daydream (and look things up her dream dictionary). She likes to dig, hunt and run. She works well with others.

And she’s not only a great companion, she’s grown more confident in the past three years, making her a competent guard dog. I named her “Sophie-Bea” after Sophie B. Hawkins, and my dog’s theme song was “Damn, I wish I was your guard dog.” Well, considering she lives between a German Shepherd named “Trooper,” and a state trooper’s dog (K-9 cop division), she’s too small to be considered a traditional guard dog. Somehow this doesn’t seem to cross her mind as an issue. She holds her own in the neighborhood. There’s no way I would have bonded with a puppy like this. Taking on a rescue dog does require a commitment and a certain openness to dealing with a dog’s special needs, when and if they arise. She loves the water, woods and wetlands, that’s for sure.

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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Journeys Through Place and Time

Miss Modernist

Written Word of the Modern Era

The Daily Coyote

Musings of a Maine lake dweller

The Ark of Identity

Laura M Kaminski's poetry practice and links

Introduction

Just another WordPress.com site

Catherine Evans Latta

Poems for Everyone

BridgeBuzz

Public relations issues and trends

Natural History Wanderings

Sandy Steinman's Blog

Mixed Waters

A look at the conditions and events surrounding estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters