JB always emerges from the water at the cabin with a happy sigh, briskly polishing himself with a towel and announcing “AHH, RIVER CLEAN.” I admire his manly pleasure in replacing a hot shower and actual soap with the great outdoors, but I do not share this perspective. I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon lying half-submerged on a little floatie (a terrible purchase, this thing is a mostly-mesh deal with only a small amount of plastic that actually gets inflated, which results in your body — once you get on the damn thing, which is no joke, or more precisely it is in fact a hilarious joke for anyone observing your tragic harpooned heavings — “floating” in the sense that you’re several inches under water, but yes, I guess technically you are buoyed somewhat; every time I use it I think of its cheery packaging, which shows a perfectly made-up lady posed on the side of a pool while the floatie lies nearby, which is clearly the only way it can live up to its promise of keeping you dry), face down and peering into the water as I was lazily moved this way and that by the sluggish summer waters, and while I was quite content — the combo of the hot sun and being permanently half-dunked turned out to be pretty nice — I was eyeballing all the things in the water that were lapping against or near my skin: clump of brownish whatever, dead bug, seaweed wisp, fish, fish, dead bug, wing of a bug, vague biological material of some sort, sodden leaf, bug, fish, giant spooky algae-covered tree snag in a deep section that didn’t actually touch me or anything but ugh that’s so creepy, severed crawdad pincer arm, brownish-green goop from where I brushed up against a rock, bug, wet feather that maybe has some goose poop on it. Just saying: “river clean” = no BJ for you.

Dog wasn’t particularly interested in swimming but she was happy to come along for various outings, even riding complacently in the canoe without a single look of bewilderment. (I sometimes wonder what she must be thinking, having gone from one home to another, and then we take her somewhere else completely and, like, put her in a boat. She’s so easygoing it’s almost suspicious, like maybe she’s somehow secretly wearing a little dog-sized vest of explosives.)

We took her out in the woods a couple times for some hiking and I had forgotten that full-bodied pleasure of being out in the middle of nowhere with a dog, no need for leashes or pockets full of poop bags. Why exactly is that so great? I don’t know, but it is. And here’s something I really love about her: I’m always the slowpoke when we’re making our way down some treacherous hill or scrambling over rocks or whatever, mostly because 1) I’m always wearing the wrong damn shoes, and 2) I’m kind of a giant pussy, and Ruby kept circling back to me. She’d go up ahead with the boys for a minute, then come gallumping back to gently snout me on the leg. Just checking on you, was the message of that snouting.

dog hike


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