Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's All Relative


When our first grandson was born, we packed the two German Shepherds into my wife's Subaru station wagon and headed south, from Portland to Los Angeles. It was summer, warm, and a bit cramped in the car, and we were in a hurry, the baby being born a couple weeks early and in the neonatal ICU under the bilirubin light.

Along about Redding, California, it got really hot. There is a stretch of I-5 there that is arrow- straight and lined on both sides by agro fields, not much to see. Were it not for the water piped in, it would be high desert: flat, dry, dusty, and hot.

The temperature climbed. Just north of Redding, it got to 105 F.; by the time we were south of the city, it was pushing 110 F., and Dianne was worried about the dogs: Was there too much sun coming through the darkly-tinted glass in the back? Was Cady getting too warm? Should we stop and rearrange our luggage to block that window? The dogs were, after all, wearing fur coats ...

Bear in mind we were in a fairly-new car with the air conditioner blasting, so it was maybe seventy-five or eighty degrees inside, at least twenty-five or thirty degrees cooler than in the semi-desert through which we were traveling. Still, the dogs were our babies, and so we did stop and move stuff around to make shade.

Then, a few miles along the road, we came upon trailer-tractor hauling hay. The bales were stacked up three or four high, a full load.

Perched on top of the bales were two border collies. I can't say they looked comfortable, but they didn't seem to be suffering much.

It struck us upon seeing this that perhaps we might be a tad over-protective of our beloved dogs. And it became part of our spousal shorthand. Whenever one of the dogs would moan because we weren't offering them food from our plate, or whine because we left them in the car when we went into the market for five minutes, we would look at them and say, "Yeah, well, you could be a hay bale dog. Don't bitch about how hard your life is."

And, of course, that applies to me -- and probably thee -- as well. Given the life I live, I can't complain about much of anything. I ain't perched on top a bale of hay on a really hot summer day ...

2 comments:

Mike said...

Putting up hay (although that's a bale of straw in the photo, city folks) was about the hardest way to make money when I was a kid. 2 or 3 cents a bale was what you got, but this didn't count the food that the farmer supplied. Noodles on top of mashed potatoes? Yep, a genuine Indiana high-carb treat that supplied enough fuel to let you move 100-pound bales all day. The dogs were smarter: they would just sit in the shade and watch the humans sweat, with occasional forays after snakes, groundhogs and other critters that were stirred up by the hay rake or baler.

Dan Gambiera said...

At least a hay bale dog had the truly psychedelic experience of smelling the world go by at fifty miles an hour. We nose-dead humans just can't imagine...