Scents and sensibility

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, July 7, 2009

At the end of each long, hot, summer day, the house would have to be fully engulfed in flames to dislodge me from the sofa.

Paul and I spend the majority of our life outdoors: he at the nursery and me riding, teaching and

emptying many a wheelbarrow into the manure pile. We think of 6 p.m. as the &squo;cocktail hour:&squo; a chilled glass of wine for me, a martini for him, and Brian

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Williams with his understanding, sympathetic eyebrows giving us the evening news. Bone-tired, from here we scratch up something resembling dinner (this has been known to be chips and salsa or a hard boiled egg), watch a couple of favorite programs and fade into sleep, arms filled with dogs.

But animals have cunning ways to tempt their self-appointed masters into the great outdoors. Rosie, in particular, getting stronger each day from her recent illness, snuffled onto my chest during a commercial and unapologetically gave me a whiff of something utterly vile she had apparently rolled in when I let her out to do her business a few minutes earlier. &dquo;Ugh…&dquo; I groaned, pulling myself upright on the sofa and, like many a stupid person who, when smelling something horrid, put my nose to her neck to smell it again. It was foul and at the same time Paul began sniffing about Bonnie&squo;s torso only to confirm that both dogs had rolled in the droppings of something that clearly wasn&squo;t a vegetarian.

&dquo;We&squo;re going to have to take them to the barn and give them a bath in the wash rack.&dquo; I sighed, lifting Rosie, looking very pleased with herself, and departing through the mudroom door.It was one of those magically rare summer evenings when a front moves through from the north and the stifling heat of the day suddenly lifts, cooling the air deliciously with strong breezes amidst a spectacular sunset settling over a mackerel sky. Both dogs were scrubbed and rinsed clean and, as dogs do, immediately rolled with abandon in the grass.Too invigorated to go back indoors, we took the girls into the fields, freshly mown and intoxicatingly sweet, to watch the culmination of the sunset while the wind played over the tops of the oaks and kept insects in the next zipcode. I have rarely seen such colors: first rose, than orange ebbing into a silvery lavender…however, the most heartswelling sight was to see Rosie overtake Bonnie as they tore through the field below, ears flying, tounge flapping, eyes radiant with health and vitality. As long as I live I shall remember the scene.&dquo;That,&dquo; I said, turning to Paul. &dquo;was worth every penny that went to the vet bill.&dquo; He agreed and we stood at the top of a hill and watched the hijinks for several more minutes before turning back home in the gathering dark.It&squo;s shameful how we can almost miss a wondrous moment owing to sedentary habits. Sometimes nature is forced to step in and shake us by the shoulders to remind us we&squo;re given very little time, really, to experience the wonders of her palatte. She does this with fireflies and rainbows, lightening and snow, and every now and then, if need be, something particularly disgusting on the neck of a terrier.