Desperate, their suppressed energies touching us and making us shimmer as well with their sympathetic need — dogs make you move.
We stopped at acres of fields below Middlebury College. In 2012 the Dalai Lama walked here, perhaps in the labyrinth marked at the 4 points of the compass by upright stones.
Released, they run back and forth between us, their eyes wide, their reflexes tuned to the slightest change in our body language — “Which way? We’ll go too. Be quick.”
Wolfie comes on straight up, head tilted left, as if he is pushing a bow wave in front of him, all white chest and power, a figurehead on a sloop that has caught a good wind. Luna runs submarine style, down-low, stretching and contracting. I swear she shreds the air tearing past. I turn and half-expect to see tatters of something scattering behind her.
When they run, they are most themselves, pure in action, complete in the moment.
They carry me away.
Back in the car, their bodies fall into easy heaps, calm as prayer.
When the wind turns, it begins to drive us away from shore. Waves slop into the canoe. Huddled between us, forlornly bearing jury-rigged life jackets, the dogs stand up and both look to the slate-cracked beach. Arms hooked into leashes, we paddle furiously to catch the shore-side drift. Clouds are brawling above us. Afternoon sunshine is switching off and on — rain pelting, sunlight bursts. Patti is hooting. We smile and drive toward the trees.
Trucks take their turn beneath the chute of the forage harvester, whose mouth, 7 feet across, eats everything — green stalk, leaves, husk, sheath, corn. A driver is sealed in a cab perched above the teeth, yellow hexagonal cylinders ending in pointed cones. It chops and chops. The yellow-green mess streams into the bins until it spills over the edges in a bright sprawl across the tops of the cabs. Spellbound until he arrived, I missed the crow flicker in but saw him land, beak a mouthful and fly off.
Something is being scattered across a plane of air, then of water, the turbulence too far away to be clear. Now, hop-scotching south in sharp air, hundreds of cormorants, white throated young, takeoff and land in groups — settling, lifting, surpassing. We cannot turn away.
Two mornings later in early pink-coral mist, a raft of them float in the middle of the lake, their bodies silhouetted, black heads pointed due north.