Into the woods

20 Aug


I don’t go into the woods much anymore. Not since we lost Otis seven years ago.

It’s too quiet out there. Memories of the two of us trekking through the trails and brush together, day after day after day after day, for a dozen years, lurk behind every oak and maple, poplar and hemlock, like it was Tuesday.

I am not as strong as it sometimes appears.

A few days ago I found myself in the woods just to the north of our house. A project that I was working on required an amount of natural stone; collecting them is easy because they are more plentiful around here than the trees.

After a couple of hours of scavenging I’d collected enough stones to complete my project and started back to the house with the last of them. The sun was shining brightly and for an instant I spied a brief but colorful reflection at the base of a giant oak.

It never occurred to me that the shining purple and blue light might be my old friend.

Rambunctious may begin to describe Otis’s spirit but that’s all it does. Don’t worry, I’m not a man who forces others to suffer through “the cute.” Let’s just say that I loved my constant companion deeply and leave it at that, shall we.

As I bent down to inspect the shiny objects the few stones that I was carrying slid out of my hands and onto the ground. I found myself grabbing the oak and trying to catch my breath.

Otis never cared much for collars and leashes. Over his all too brief time with us we replaced several of both. The purple and blue tags shining in the sunlight that day were the very first ones that he wore, very reluctantly, as a pup.

After a good cry I scooped up the tags and left the last few stones behind. My wife Joan was having a pretty bad day and so I decided to wait a bit before showing them to her. When Otis died, you see, a very important part of her died too.

Last evening, after finishing the stonework, an outdoor fire pit that Joan had been wanting me to build for some time, I brought out Otis’s tags. Turns out she had already discovered them hidden behind the garden tools that I thought she never paid any attention to.

And, like me, couldn’t quite find the right moment to mention it.

5 Responses to “Into the woods”

  1. Denise August 20, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

    Such a poignant story and made me cry – we almost lost our little pup at 3 years old last summer, but she’s made it through. We can’t even think about when her days comes without breaking down. Sending you hugs!

  2. Pam McClure August 20, 2020 at 5:35 pm #


  3. Kathy Watson August 21, 2020 at 12:35 am #

    Mr Meatball- This brought a tear to my eye. Sorry about the loss of your trusted companion. There’s nothing like a pooch to give unconditional love. Ours, I can say, was one of my best friends! She’s been dead for five years. Someone told my husband dogs are good to “grow old” with.

  4. DAVE BLAKNEY August 21, 2020 at 3:55 pm #

    the fortune teller said i would have my heart broken in 15 years so got a puppy to cheer myself up

  5. Joanne Gray August 23, 2020 at 2:18 am #

    I know exactly what you mean. Our dog was a Jack Russell named Strimmer. Boy, do I miss her. Thank you.

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