Not a Bad Record

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 12:57pm


After the following was written, I learned onions are not good for dogs. It was, now, a few weeks ago and I can be sure my Autumn suffered no ill effects so it is a story I feel safe telling.


There is a partly naked onion on the floor, its darkened skin almost completely detached, all courtesy of my just one-year old retriever, Autumn.

Onions, I know, are not dragons, they do not live forever, especially when left in a wooden bowl in summertime. Still I leave them there forgetting how they draw humidity and — worst case scenario — turn to juice-bleeding orbs only loosely enclosed by their skin.

This last lot was the worst and I do not like to think about how long it has been sitting there, I have the awful feeling since I intended to make soup when we were still in soup weather. One among the lot was not as bad as the others, once it had been removed from the pool of brown liquid. Perhaps it could have been salvaged but, instead, I gave it to Autumn, throwing it across the grass, never expecting her to accept the challenge. I was remembering another retriever’s excitement at having stolen a tennis ball quickly turning to horror and his plopping the fuzzy would-be-toy-in-fact-was-peach on the floor with laughable distain. The fragile skin had but one tiny nick. It was the same dog who swam out chasing a five-barbed lure a fisherman had cast into the surf. While I fretted, he came in and dropped it on the sand, to the amazement of the visitor whose own Chesapeake had landed at the vet for attempting the same feat.

Autumn ran about the yard with the onion, tossing the new prize into the air, harmless enough, I thought, and only later realized she was eating it, which still seemed of no great import.

“You can’t feed her onions!” I was told when I mentioned what I thought were cute antics. Out came the phone and, after a quick search, there it was, a weather channel-like headline proclaiming a sure disaster. My dog seemed fine when I got home, blissfully unaware of the text I had been reading, but I did follow up and found even more possibilities on the internet. At least I had the sense to go to the end of the call-your-vet-the-end-is-near articles and decided while it had been ill advised and I would not do it again, she is a big girl would likely survive one onion, as she has.

Unfortunately, in the process, she developed a fondness for onions that has her sitting at my feet expectantly whenever I cut into one. My kitchen is old-fashioned, with no open island, and when she started this behavior, as I was slicing apples last fall, my back to her, she was yet a baby. I thought it was no more than a little girl protesting at being ignored until I gave her an apple skin thinking she’d go away.

She wanted more and I knew indulging her was a mistake but she was a golden retriever puppy, I had little choice.


Last night, there was rain in the forecast, a great glob of green on the radar screen creeping nearer as the evening progressed. The blue bars charting this day were a graphic of a city skyline marching across the hours.

It seems only the third such day of the summer. I remember the washout that was the Fourth of July and a very wet Saturday, the day I had thought I had taken the photo of my backyard through the screening. Rain was falling straight and gentle, silver summer rain that lured the dog out to lie in it, coming inside only under protest.

Whenever it was, that night my golden Autumn was sweetly soft and dry and I thought of stories of ladies who washed their rain with soft water straight from the barrel.

I think I may only count the sunny days in summer and I seem to have lost a rainy one; by my most unscientific gauge, mid-day movie matinees, this would be the fourth day of weather bad enough even the most optimistic would not be going to the beach.

Either way, it is not a bad record for the second week in August, especially with the ground not looking as bleakly brown as it has other years long before now, the grass not as harsh underfoot. I know there have been nights it has poured, when I have heard water filtering through the trees outside my open window. It is cliché, summer rain lulling me to sleep, a change from the winter when it beats against the glass with an intensity that makes me need the white noise of the radio tuned to some odd all night station.

This morning I thought the weather site radar was broken, those great blobs of green touched with yellow were all around us as we sat untouched in a blue ocean. The talk on Providence radio was of flash floods and anticipation of water so deep some of the main arteries in the city would have to be closed. Later it did seem some of that had come to pass but I always listen with the full knowledge this is Rhode Island where every weather event is magnified through the lens of the Blizzard of 1978, much as the 1938 Hurricane cast a long shadow over Block Island for decades, through my childhood.

Putting down those numbers I wonder how many times someone mentioned the 40-year span between the two catastrophic happenings and I never noticed. Nor did I think, with the dark mind set the Puritans forever cast over this land, what will happen in 2018?

As this day, more overcast than rainy, winds toward its end, the land is green, the sun on the scattered clouds golden, the air sweet and cool. It’s going to be a nice night with a promise of a better tomorrow.