Hey folks, that’s right. I’m barking again. And it’s about time, in my humble opinion.
We hiked up a big mountain today. Mom has a hierarchy of mountains – little ones and big ones. We live on a little one, and we “hike” on it every day. Mom also has a hierarchy of hiking – hence the quotation marks. On our little mountain Mom doesn’t carry a pack. Most of the time she doesn’t even wear hiking boots. She wears her muck boots because the ground was snowy and wet but now it’s muddy and wet. We might be out for 2 hours, we might gain a boatload of elevation (that means Mom sweats and we pant, for you nonhikers), we might see porcupines, eagles, wildflowers and weasels, but for mom that isn’t hiking. It’s just wandering.
Big mountains here in our beloved Catskills are over 3500 feet in elevation. Some have trails and some don’t. I haven’t done them all but Mom has. Maybe I’ll get to do them all before I die. I’m not counting but Mom probably will. She’s silly like that, keeping track and earning a silly patch for her troubles.
I realized, as the five of us raced up that big mountain this morning, that Mom and I are a lot alike. Maybe that’s why she puts up with me and my barky ways. I love to hike. No, really, I love to HIKE. I love the big mountains, probably for the same reasons Mom does. When you hike out on a big mountain, you feel free. I was chained, I know you all know that. But so was mom, in her own way. When we go hike on the big mountain, we both feel like anything could happen. There is risk, there are “pucker moments” when things get tricky and we have to pay attention. There is sweat and muscle fatigue, and a sense of leaving it all on the mountain. And there is triumph too, when we hit the summit and we all bark at mom and jump around wagging. Mom sings and we bark, drowning her out, but she just laughs. I let go of all my bad memories out there and that big mountain feels bigger than me and my stupid troubles. In fact, when I run free with mom and my sisters, I forget that I ever had troubles. The big mountains can do that for me. I think they do that for Mom too.
I know Mom confessed on Facebook that her stomach has been bad this week and she’s been kind of “off.” She used the word depressed, but let me tell you that woman is not depressed. I know depression, people. She is in shock, a little like I was when I first came to live with her. When I first moved in, everything was better than I’d ever had it before: food, love, comfy beds, a family… but I was just overwhelmed for a while. It takes some time to adjust, even to good things. I had to learn how to enjoy all the great stuff my new life offered me – even though it was all great, it was just new and unfamiliar, and I am not a spring chicken. My adjuster muscles were a little atrophied.
Mom and Dad moved from an ok situation to a whole new life, and while it is better, it is really different. We kind of all live in one big room now and no one has any privacy. There are porcupines everywhere and Mom is terrified that one of us will get quilled again. We keep jumping in the pond and getting all wet then running around in the mud then walking in the house… and I admit it – I bark all the time and jump on Mom’s bed with my muddy paws. I drive Mom to distraction. Mom is alone a lot more than she used to be. It is a lot to absorb and adjust to and Mom is old too. She isn’t as old as me, but she isn’t young anymore. She is figuring it out and enjoying it, but I think if we give her 6 months, she’s going to blossom bigtime. I know I did.
The other day Dad was petting me and I just kept smiling. Dad noticed and said “You know, Mica never used to smile like that.” That’s right, Dad. I didn’t. I loved you right away, but I love you more now that I can relax a little and love myself and love life. If I could speak English and talk to Mom, that’s what I’d tell her. Chill out, give yourself time, and keep making that jewelry. The rest will all sort itself out.