The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Caught Napping

By Cherise Wyneken © 1988

Issue: May, 1988

Heinrich, the brown haired Dachshund.Heinrich, the brown haired Dachshund.I am Heinrich, a brown haired Dachshund, brush tipped here and there with black. My face and feet have turned to white and I can barely walk these days. I've had some pleasant times in life but if I've learned anything in my sixteen years of life it's this: I'll never understand the ways of Man.

You've gotta do this and you gotta do that. It's okay to sit on the couch but don't get caught on the easy chair. Food and Drug says no to any restaurant or Super Market. Yet I eat right in the kitchen. Some welcome me in their motels; others won't permit me.

Just when you've dozed off for the night, they wake you up and take you for a walk in the nippy air. You sit around in the house all day, but no one thinks of going for a walk. They wait till night when all is dark and things make scary shadows and trees and bushes talk in time to the wind. I'd never go it alone then!

Those are all everyday things a dog can learn to put up with, but what really gets me, now in my old age, is that they've taken to living in two houses. No sooner do you get rested up from the long trip in a crowded car full of gear, and used to the sounds and smells of the town place, than its up and ready, pack and time to go to the mountains. That yellow cat will be back in full possession of my yard by nightfall; all that barking and growling for nothing.

I heard someone say it's what people do when they retire. They're right about that: it's tire, and re-tire, and re-tire!

They won't let me sit in the back with the bird, so there I am, squeezed in the middle in the front seat where I can't see a thing but the dash board. Artic air blows through the vent right across my face for a full day and a half. No wonder I suffer from arthritis.

I have to admit it's rather nice in the mountains. It's pleasant lying in the sun on the deck and watching the humming birds flutter at the feeder. Beep, Beep, the Roadrunner weather vane, whirrs in the wind and the flag flaps and furls - nice sounds, pleasant sounds, in tune with the music of the creek below. Though I'd never let them notice, it's times like that I even feel affection for old Tweetie Bird warbling his canary song.

Before my legs gave out on me, Dave would take me on long walks, up and down the mountain road and I spent hours protecting the yard from chipmunks. It's five years now since we've been coming here and yet I can't decide which is more beautiful; springtime with the white and wild Dogwood blooms mingling with the golden green new growth, or fall, with colors from a cupboard full of spices: curry, cumin, turmeric, and chili, cinnamon and bay. Why they won't stay here is beyond me - like all the ways of Man. Take the other day for instance.

"I'm taking Heinie with me to the Lumber Yard," I heard Dave call to Margaret soon after breakfast.

"Did you stop at those new people's who bought Arnie's place and get that settled about the membership for the club?" she asked in reply.

"I'll stop on my way back," he answered. "Come on, old man," he said to me. "You can keep a fellow company."

I heaved and hoved till I was standing upright on my four-four inch legs. My black, stiff tail stuck out in a curved arch as it wiggled back and forth in anticipation.

I like to go with Dave alone. He rolls down the windows and lets the fresh breeze blow and I can spread myself across the seat. I still can't see from down that deep, but at least I'm not imprisoned in a car seat like poor Linda's baby.

I wait in the car while Dave goes in the Lumber Yard to make his purchases.

He must not plan on staying long, I thought. He didn't leave me any water.

I could hear the birds chirp and people banging car doors.

"It don't look nice when you act like that," I heard a lady scold her child.

When I was young, I used to put my paws along the window ledge and pull up so I could see but when you're old and weak you have to lie back and dream. Sometimes you dream awake, using the sounds as cues and then you drift to sleep and see the sounds take shapes.

"You'll bring it in the morning then?" Dave's voice broke through my silent picture screen. "Up on Walker Road. You know the place."

"Jerry knows," answered Hal. "He'll be back tomorrow with the pickup. I'll send him out, first thing."

"Move over," ordered Dave giving me a shove as he climbed back in.

We bumped and rattled down the frontage road then out onto the highway. The sweet smell of apple blossoms from Bailey's Orchard, floated on the air and tingled my wet nose.

We must be nearing home, I thought.

Dave made the right angle turn into Walker Road and soon I felt the wheel clunker in that old rut near the hairpin turn. Instead of angling up the hill toward home, I felt the car go left and down. We slowed to a stop, crunching over gravel and parked beside the old Williams' place.

"You wait here," said Dave. "I won't be long," and he closed the door, leaving the keys in the ignition. Everyone is family on the mountain.

I could hear Dave cross the road to Arnie's place and Williams' terrier barking, up inside the house, challenging my presence. Some bees were buzzing in the nearby pink azalea. A bird was chirping at its mate. The warmth of the noonday sun came in along with the smell of lilacs. I stretched my long, bulging body across the seat and slept.

The car door opened and I felt myself being shoved across the seat. No need to bother waking. I slept on. The car turned and headed up the hill.

The sound of Margaret's voice brought me around as we pulled into the carport and stopped.

"What happened?" she asked in a worried voice. "Where is Dave?"

I suppose if dogs wore glasses I would have noticed it was Williams who was driving.

"Why, I thought he was up here," came his puzzled answer. "I found his car parked in front of my place with Heinie in it," he continued as he lifted off his cap and scratched his head. "I thought he'd had some trouble getting it to start like the other day and walked on home for tools; when I turned the key it started, so I drove it along on up."

"He planned on stopping by at Arnie's place and talk to those new people. He must still be there," said Margaret.

"Well, I'll be doggoned!" exclaimed old Williams. "I'd best go put them back."

And with that he turned the car around and drove back down to Arnie's.

"Some Watch Dog you make," he snorted as he slammed the door and went up to his house.

A few minutes later I heard footsteps an the gravel and the click of metal as the door opened once again. This time I looked up.

"Hey there old fella," greeted Dave. "You getting thirsty? We'll be home in a minute."

By now I'm not only thirsty, I'm getting dizzy too from all this yo-yo treatment.

"Well. Well. Here's my old Poopums," greeted Margaret in the lilting tone I loved as Dave set me down on the driveway. "Did you get taken for a ride?"

I stood there for a moment trying to get my bearings and equilibrium. I shook myself a couple times, then gave her my best "poor me" look.

"Poor old Poopums," she said. "Come on inside. You deserve some lunch."

As I waddled through the opened door I wondered, Could I ever really figure Man?