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April 15, 2024

The Garden of Peed-In 02

By Paula Petruzzi


It felt good to have a home. Oh, sure, Wimsie and I still roamed around, but we always came back for dinner. And Wimsie, bless her heart, always brought a treat home for the kind folks who had given us lodging, so it wasn't as if we were imposing on them. Not that we needed a place to stay, but it was nice to have a dry bed waiting for us.

Dogs have better noses than humans do, and Wimsie found several kinds of edibles that the humans had missed. One day, it was carrots. I was trotting along beside a spring, and suddenly I saw dirt flying through the air. The source of the commotion was hidden behind a big clump of ferns, so I went over to investigate. I figured it was either Wimsie or a wolverine. I had seen a wolverine digging a new den to snooze in, and the whole operation, from start to finish, had been really impressive. When a wolverine wanted a den, it got a den, and no matter if there were big rocks in the way. But it was Wimsie, practically standing on her head as the dirt continued to fly. Finally, she emerged with a long, orange root that was as big around as my tail. "These smell good!" she said, and she clipped the end off the root with her sharp teeth.

"You better be careful," I warned her, remembering the horseradish, but she continued to nibble at the root until she had eaten about half of it. She gave the other half to me, and it was crunchy and sweet and really tasty. But I was damned if I knew what those plants were called. That came to me later. I helped her dig up a few more, and that's what we took home. They wound up in another salad. We had lots of salads, with every possible combination of ingredients, and we never got tired of them.

Since the Dream had given me the ability to understand the humans' language, it didn't take me long to find out that they had personal names, like we did. That was a surprise. I didn't know of any other animals that had personal names. Most of them used other methods of identification, and the rest of 'em didn't give a shit. I mean, what would be the point of every ant in the world having its own name? They would run out of names, for one thing.

The woman's name was Zan, and the man's name was Nar. They didn't talk much, and their language was pretty simple. And simple was fine. In Eden, complex concepts just weren't necessary. I spent a lot of time philosophizing, but that was my problem. I didn't want to inflict my existential ruminations on Wimsie and spoil her fun. Wimsie didn't need that shit. She had stuff to do: chasing leaves, barking at squirrels, that sort of thing. But back to my story.

One day, Nar and I wandered over to the dam, and he decided to follow the stream that spilled over the top of it. Further down, the stream joined up with other streams and became a river, wide and deep and with a current so strong that it would be a considerable pain in the ass to try to swim across it. We followed it for several hours, finally stopping at a point where we would have just enough time to get home for dinner. Nobody likes to miss dinner. Nar stared wistfully downriver, and I could see that he desperately wanted to know where it went. But we couldn't keep going and leave the ladies wondering what had happened to us, so we turned around and retraced our steps. Along the way, he stopped to pick strawberries. They were one of our favorite foods, but they didn't grow in our valley. We had to go pretty far to get strawberries. He gathered several handfuls and bundled them in a big leaf to take home. I watched him, and it seemed that he was lost in whatever thought he was capable of. I almost suspected that he was up to something.

I was right. He had brought the strawberries home as a special treat for Zan, to sweeten her up, so to speak. We had our cucumber salad with macadamia nuts, and then she passed out the strawberries. Each of us got several of the large, plump, juicy berries. For once, I took my time eating, because those things were really delicious and I didn't want them to be over with too fast. Nar kept glancing at Zan, and I wondered what he was thinking. I soon found out.

"Zan," he said, a bit hesitantly, "how about we move?"

Zan stopped chewing and looked at him. "Why?"

Nar shrugged. "To see some new stuff. We followed the stream today, and it gets really big. And there's strawberries everywhere."

Well, there it was. A bit of an exaggeration, I would say, but shrewd.

"What about our tree?" Zan asked, gesturing at our home.

"I saw several more," Nar said. "We could move from one to the next."

Very sensible, I thought. The ladies could hardly object to that, especially if there were strawberries involved.

Zan glanced around at the familiar and comforting landscape that she was being asked to leave. Hell, even I was reluctant to pull up stakes. I really liked it here, but I had to admit that I was feeling the same kind of wanderlust that was pulling at Nar. Wimsie was feeling it, too, because she wagged her tail and cocked her head at Zan as if to say, "Let's go!" Wimsie and I had traveled for a long time before we settled here, so it wasn't as big a deal for us.

"We can always come back," Nar pointed out.

When Zan still didn't answer, Wimsie picked up one of the sticks that she and Zan had been using to play their throw-the-stick game. She tried to bark at Zan with the stick in her mouth, and then she ran toward the stream and back to Zan several times. Then she dropped the stick in Zan's lap.

Zan laughed at Wimsie's antics and said, "Okay, okay. We're going." She scratched Wimsie's ears, and Wimsie sighed and closed her eyes.

That's my girl, I thought proudly. If logic doesn't work, try a stick. Years later, humans would twist that philosophy and use it to fuck each other over, but I'm getting off my story again.

The next morning, we made a huge breakfast out of all the food that Zan had stored in her clay jars, because it would have been silly to take it with us. Nar and I had seen plenty of edibles along the river. Zan didn't want to leave her jars and bowls behind, because she had put a lot of work into them. Nar couldn't recall seeing any clay further down the river, so he conceded her point. After Zan had wrapped the bowls in leaves and placed three of them in each jar, Nar hoisted a jar in each arm and balanced them on his shoulders. Zan picked up a smaller jar, and off we went.

Wimsie, dear heart, had insisted on bringing her favorite stick along. It was ridiculous, because the forest was full of sticks. That's pretty much what a forest is: an assortment of sticks of all different sizes. Right? But I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I told her it was a good idea. I felt vaguely guilty because I was the only one who wasn't carrying anything, so I scouted around until I found one of Zan's digging tools that she had left behind, and I carried that all the way to our new home. That was my contribution. When Zan saw what I had in my mouth, it made her laugh, so I felt pretty good about it.

Several hours later, we arrived at the next elephant-ear tree. Everyone was tired, especially Nar, who had to carry those damn jars the whole way. Zan gathered some fresh rushes to make beds, and then we went looking for snacks. We turned in earlier than usual, and the following morning, we set out again.

I lost track of how many elephant-ear trees we stopped at, but there were quite a few. It was an interesting lifestyle. We saw lots of new things, and it was exciting to be on the move. The river that we had been following became wider and deeper. Finally, one afternoon, we arrived at the place that Nar had been looking for: the end of the river.

We stood on a small rise and stared at the incredible sight that had just revealed itself. The river emptied into an enormous lake. It was the biggest lake that Wimsie and I had ever seen. Poking out of the water were about a dozen islands, and the really amazing part was that beyond the islands, there was nothing but water. The lake was so fucking huge that we couldn't even see the other side of it.

When we had recovered from our shock, we made our way down to the lake, and Wimsie and I paced along the beach for a little ways. The beach was made of fine sand, so white it was almost blinding. It felt strange under my paws. The footing was a little tricky at first, and I went down on my snout a couple of times before I got the hang of it. Wimsie, of course, tiptoed right along. When we had gone about a mile down the beach, I squinted out at the islands, thinking that I might be able to see the opposite shore from that new vantage point, but all I could see out there was water.

"Oh, look!" Wimsie cried in delight, and she dashed toward the water. I couldn't imagine what could possibly be more exciting than the sight of that big-ass lake, so I trotted after her to see what had caught her fancy. It was a creature that looked like a big red spider. The word crab popped into my mind, and I yelled, "Watch out for the . . . " but it was too late. Wimsie yelped and jumped about six feet into the air. I finished my sentence anyway. "Claws." She looked at me accusingly, as if it had been my fault, and then she pawed at her sore nose. I was about to say something else, but she got a puzzled look on her face, and she sniffed at the water and took a few tentative laps. "The water is full of salt," she said.

Well, that was new. I tasted the water myself, and it made me gag. Sure enough, the water was salty. We couldn't drink that shit, which meant that we would have to stay near the stream. That was fine with me, because the scenery was spectacular. I couldn't wait to see the sunset.

There were no elephant-ear trees around, and I figured that the humans would want to return to the last one that we had passed. Wimsie didn't want to go back; there were so many new things to explore, and there was so much fun to have, that she would probably try to go all the way around the lake. I could see it coming. I could also see a point of contention developing, since I was actually looking forward to a bit of relaxation. My paws needed a pause.

Fortunately, for me at least, the issue was decided by geology. Good old geology. It was solid and dependable. Wimsie had galloped way ahead of me, as I had been deliberately slowing my pace in an attempt to give her a gentle hint: I'm tired. I want to stop. Can we stop? Anyway, she came racing back. "Fez!" she said, tail wagging furiously. "There's a cave! It's cute!" She pranced around in a circle. "Can we stay there? It's cute!"

I had learned that "cute" trumped any possible argument, no matter how logical and sane, that I could come up with. And she had just thrown a double "cute" at me. I wouldn't have argued anyway, since I could use the cave as an excuse to get some rest. Pretending to be grumpy, I let her lead me to our prospective new home. About a mile down the beach, we left the sand and trotted up a gentle, grassy slope. Ahead of us, at the base of the cliff, was an opening in the rock. I approached the cave cautiously, in case someone was already living in it who didn't feel like sharing. Silly me. "There are shiny things in there! You gotta see it!" Wimsie said breathlessly, and she shot past me and into the cave. Of course, Wimsie had already been in there. Otherwise, how would she have known about the shiny things?

It was a nice cave. Cute, even. Inside the opening was a short passageway. The floor sloped up a bit, leveling out in the main part of the cavern, and it was covered with the same fine, white sand that lined the shore of the lake. The walls and ceiling were made of really hard rock, white with a few horizontal black streaks. Even though the sun wasn't shining directly into the cave, the white sand and white rock reflected the light that came in, and the whole place sparkled.

Wimsie was sitting at the other end of the cave and staring fixedly at the wall. She would do that -- just stare at something, like a beetle or a flower or a fishie, until moss started to grow on her fur. I knew that I wouldn't be allowed to relax until I had seen whatever it was that she was looking at, so I wandered over and sat beside her. There was a group of crystals embedded in the wall. Most of them were about the size of a cherry, but there were a couple of larger ones, and each crystal refracted the light into a spray of little rainbows. I could see Wimsie's point. The damn things started to hypnotize me, but I shook it off and nipped her ear to bring her out of her trance. "We have to show this place to the humans," I said. "Otherwise, they might find someplace to live that isn't this cute." Well, that got her attention, and she tore out of that cave like her tail was on fire. I followed her at a more leisurely pace. The grass outside the cave was long and soft, an ideal place to take a nap. I stretched out under a bush and closed my eyes. The peace and quiet wouldn't last long, and I planned to put every minute of it to good use. As I drifted off to sleep, I could hear Wimsie barking in the distance.

I had a short nap, and awoke to the sound of eight legs swishing toward me through the grass. I kept my eyes closed, but Wimsie knew better. She poked me with her snout until I got up.

Nar peered into the opening. "A cave?"

"Maybe we could live in it," Zan said, and she strolled right into the cave. She and Wimsie were two kindred souls, for sure.

Nar went in right behind her, and Wimsie and I followed so we could see their reaction to the place. At first, it was hard to tell which way it was going to go.

"I don't want to live in a hole like a rabbit," Nar said, crossing his arms.

Zan frowned at him. "It isn't a hole. There's lots of light in here."

"We could go back to our last tree-house," Nar suggested.

"You go back to our last tree-house," Zan said pointedly. "I'm staying here. I'm tired of tree-houses." And then she used some simple but devastating logic of her own. "It was your idea to move."

Nar didn't have a good counter for that one. I knew he wouldn't, and I was glad, because I didn't want to live under those elephant-ear trees any more, either. I had started to harbor a grudge against those damn trees, because I still had no idea what they were called. Every time I saw one, I remembered that I couldn't remember, but if we stayed at the beach, I wouldn't have to see one for a long, long time.

Wimsie pranced over and stood next to Zan, wagging her tail as if offering moral support. I kept out of it. Finally, Nar sighed and said, "I'll get the jars."

Zan smiled, and Wimsie yipped with joy and ran out of the cave, probably to get her stick. It looked like we had a new home.

I went outside and returned to my secluded little spot under the bush, where I could resume my nap.

Article © Paula Petruzzi. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-12-09
Image(s) are public domain.
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