Our book is done, so Ace and I — Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — are starting a new chapter.
For two years — yes, two — I’ve been assembling the book version of “Travels with Ace,” which documents the year my dog and I wandered the country, tracing the path John Steinbeck took with his poodle Charley and venturing down some of our own.
Unlike “Travels with Charley” (the literary classic), ”Travels with Ace” (the book in search of a publisher) is a more lighthearted account of road tripping with a dog across America. It’s more laden with dogs, dog lore and dog facts, and delves more deeply into just what it is that makes you, me and America so bonkers over dogs.
Written by a former newspaper journalist (that would be me) whose massive mystery mutt altered the course of his life, the book looks at how we and our country have changed in the 50 years since Steinbeck and Charley circumnavigated America in a camper named Rocinante.
One recurring theme — as you might expect from a newspaper guy who watched his industry shrink and crumble, and who’s approaching old manhood — is my grumbling and anxiety over technology, and where, besides unemployment, it might take us.
That theme showed up in my first book, too – about cloning dogs, a technology that, at least when it comes to pet owners, would be better off never having been invented, in my opinion.
It was, in large part, that first book that led to the second one. Seeing the lengths to which dog owners go upon losing, or learning they’re about to lose, their dog — cloning being probably the most extreme of them — I decided that the best time to celebrate one’s dog (and one’s people) is while they’re still alive.
So I showed my dog America, and came to the conclusion, among others, that while full speed ahead is sometimes fine, slowing down (which dogs can help with) and stepping backwards can be good, too.
Ace and I ended up in North Carolina — moving, backwards, into the same apartment unit my parents lived in when I was born. We stayed there until last week when — because the landlord sold it to a new owner — we were required to vacate the premises.
It was by accident, or maybe fate, that we ended up in Bethania, the oldest planned Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established in 1759.
Looking at boring apartment developments, Ace and I made a wrong turn, or two, or three, and found ourselves going down its bucolic Main Street, which is lined with historic homes. Bethania, while surrounded by Winston-Salem, is an independent jurisdiction, with a population of about 350. It feels like another world, and a very peaceful one at that.
Bethania is not to be confused – but often is — with Bethabara, which was the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina, established by 15 church members who walked here from Pennsylvania. Fleeing religious persecution, the German-speaking Protestants first came to the U.S. when it was still a group of British colonies. Once Bethabara became a thriving village, and became overcrowded with refugees, a second Moravian settlement was laid out — Bethania
After that, a third settlement was founded – Salem, which would become the congregation’s headquarters and the biggest and best known of the villages of what was called Wachovia. Today, Bethabara is an historic park, Bethania is a little town, and Old Salem is a tourist attraction, where one can learn about the old ways
The Moravians were known for doing missionary work with local Indian tribes, and avoiding, on principal, violent conflict. Their cemeteries, such as God’s Acre in Old Salem, are highly regimented affairs where the grave markers, in addition to being in neat rows and grouped according to the Moravian choir system, are all of the same size — a reminder that, as much as we might like or think we deserve a big ostentatious tombstone, we’re all equal. I like that.
Bethania seems to reflect an attention to detail as well. Church members built their houses in the middle of town, and the orchards and farms they worked were on its periphery. I’m pretty sure my house was once orchard area.
It’s quiet, and it feels like I’m out in the country, even though it’s only 7 miles from downtown.
I knew I made the right decision on our new location when, at the town’s visitor center, I inquired whether it would be okay to take my dog, on a leash, down the hiking trails behind it.
“You don’t need a leash,” came the reply.
Almost every home in Bethania has a front porch with two rocking chairs — and, while I’m pretty sure it’s not required by local ordinance, I plan to follow suit
My little white house with a green tin roof has a fireplace in the living room, a grapevine in the backyard, room to plant lots of vegetables and a shed in which I plan to tinker with things. I’m not sure what things, but I definitely want to tinker.
I have a neighbor to one side, an empty lot on the other, and judging from the vines in the trees, I think I’ll have some kudzu to look at, which some of you might remember I have a thing for.
In addition to the visitor center, and the trails, there’s a public golf course, Long Creek Club, just down the road (owned by my landlord); and the old mill in the center of town has been refurbished and sports several shops, studios, and the Muddy Creek Café, a dog friendly spot with live music on weekends.
I’m just a newcomer, but I suspect the biggest social hub is the Moravian Church, just a few hundred yards from my home. (In a bit of a coincidence, it’s interim minister once graced the pages of ohmidog!)
I am not now a Moravian and have never been one, but I do have a family connection. She was considered my great aunt, though she wasn’t a blood relative.
Kathleen Hall was born to another family, but grew up as a sister to my grandmother. We called her “Tan,” believed to be derived from a mispronunciation of “aunt.”
Every Easter, my mother instructs me to put a flower on Tan’s grave at God’s Acre in Old Salem — preferably purple, Tan’s favorite color. I did that on Easter, and noticed, as in previous years, another flower, a white lily, was already there. Who leaves it every year is a mystery to us.
There’s also a memory of her in my living room — her stitchwork covers a footstool my mother passed along to me years ago.
Given that connection, and the fact that the Moravian church is just a few hundred yards away from my new home, I may check it out — at least once I get my boxes unpacked and my Internet set up.
They do have that here — even though several internet/cable companies told me my address in Bethania doesn’t exist.
One who uses Bethania as their mailing address can’t get mail delivered. I could use Winston-Salem or Pfafftown as my mailing address, but I’ve opted to go with Bethania and avoid getting a mailbox. Instead, I’ll walk three houses down to the little post office when I want my mail, which, given it’s mostly bills, I usually don’t.
Other than that, Bethania isn’t one of those places stuck in the past, just a place that honors it. It’s not like an Amish community. I’m pretty sure people aren’t churning butter and blacksmithing. But there does seem to be a respect for times gone by, and the older I get, the more frustrated I get with my computer, and apps, and talking to robots on the phone, the more important that has become to me.
Despite my growing techno-anxiety, I will admit — after moving 20 or so boxes of books — that the Kindle might not be an entirely bad idea.
After the Saturday move, I woke up pretty sore on Easter Sunday.
I’d fully intended to take Ace to the Moravian sunrise service here in Bethania.
But the sound of rain on my new tin roof lulled me back to sleep.
Once I did wake up, Ace and I had Easter lunch with my mother, then dropped by God’s Acre in Old Salem to pay respects to Tan and drop off a purple hyacinth. Then we headed back home.
So that’s the tale of our new place, and a long way of saying our new address is:
PO Box 169
Bethania, NC, 27010
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bethabara, bethania, church, dog inc., dogs, hiking, history, home, house, john steinbeck, mill, moravians, move, moving, muddy creek cafe, north carolina, ohmidog!, old salem, pets, religion, salem, settlement, simpler, technology, trails, travels with ace, travels with charley, walking, way of life, winston-salem
An off-duty Buncombe County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a border collie mix at North Carolina’s Catawba Falls says he did so to protect his children from what appeared to be an aggressive dog.
“You’re damn right I shot your dog,” he reportedly told the dog’s owner, Scott Shulman of Durham.
Shulman, who was hiking with his son, said his three dogs got ahead of them when he fell into the water.
By the time he caught up, he saw Deputy Jason Honeycutt pointing a gun at one of his dogs, a 45-pound border collie mix named Nellie, who he says was barking and wagging her tail.
“I hear two or three pops, and I see Nellie roll over and hit the ground,” Shulman said. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I just said, ‘Did you shoot my dog?’ He said something like, ‘you’re damn right I shot your dog.’”
Shulman told the Asheville Citizen-Times that his dog was not posing a threat to the officer or his children, and that he thought shooting the dog was “disproportionate and excessive.”
The McDowell County Sheriff’s Office has investigated the case, and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internal probe, but no charges or disciplinary action were recommended against the deputy.
“We don’t have any issue with what our officer did,” said Lt. Randy Sorrells of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department. “He was protecting his children.”
A McDowell County incident report that lists Deputy Honeycutt as the victim states the dog appeared to be aggressive toward children.
Shulman disagrees, and says two witnesses to the shooting also believe Nellie, while barking, wasn’t behaving aggressively otherwise.
“My main concern is making the citizens aware that this incident occurred … I don’t want anybody else to have to experience something like this.”
(Photo: Asheville Citizen-Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, animals, barking, border collie, buncombe county, catawba falls, children, deputy, disproportionate, dog, dogs, durham, excessive, hiking, jason honeycutt, kills, mcdowell county, mix, mountains, nellie, north carolina, off duty, pets, protecting, scott shulman, sheriff, shoots, tail, wagging
The owner of a dog rescued from a Colorado mountain after he had to abandon her has consented to give the German shepherd-Rottweiler mix to one of her rescuers.
“I don’t want to give her up — I love her — but those people risked life and limb to get her out of there, and that has got to be worth something,” Anthony Ortolani told the Denver Post.
Ortolani, 31, was climbing with a friend when a combination of factors led him to decide to leave his dog, Missy, behind.
The dog’s feet were blistered and she was unable to walk. A storm was approaching. And his climbing companion was out of water. They tried carrying the five-year-old, 112-pound dog, but after two hours, he said, they ended up leaving her between Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans.
Once down the mountain, Ortolani called a friend who contacted the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office but was told the region was too dangerous and that the department didn’t rescue animals.
Missy was stranded for eight days before a volunteer group of rescuers found her and carried her down the mountain.
After that, Ortolani was charged with animal cruelty for abandoning her, and one of the rescuers expressed interest in keeping the dog.
Ortolani has agreed to plead guilty to a less serious charge, according to his lawyer, Jennifer Edwards, founder and attorney with the Animal Law Center.
Discussions leading to the plea bargain included talk of his giving up the dog, said Edwards, but are not the reason for his surrendering the animal.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 14ers, abandoned, animals, anthony ortolani, behind, clear creek county, climbing, colorado, dog, dogs, german shepherd, hiking, left, missy, mount bierstadt, Mount Evans, mountains, owner, pets, rescue, rescued, rottweiler, surrenders
Kieri was on a bird-watching walk with her owner when she stuck her head into a trailside trap intended to instantly kill otters and beavers.
The 8-year-old, 38-pound Wheaten terrier, underwent surgery and seemed to be recovering, according to her owner, Jack Williamson. But in April, her pain returned. She underwent surgery this month, but continued to suffer and was put down Tuesday.
Kieri is among a half dozen dogs reported to have been caught in traps last winter in Central Oregon, three times more than usual,according to an Associated Press account based on a subscriber-only Bend Bulletin story.
State wildlife officials think the increase may be a result of trappers coping with high gasoline prices by setting their traps closer to town.
Williamson wants the state to ban the use of large body-gripping traps on land.
Members of the Oregon Trappers Association have met with Williamson and wildlife officials to discuss rules changes that would keep pets safer. The Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to review its rules when it meets next month.
According to a petition Williamson started on the website Care 2, current regulations in Oregon allow traps to be set on public land, concealed from view, without penalty of any kind for placement of traps that result in serious injury to people, or pets that are under control of their owner.
You can find more information about Kieri and the petition at Kieri.org
(Photo: From Kieri.org)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beaver trap, care2, commission, dangers, death, died, dog, dogs, euthanized, fur, hikers, hiking, hunting, injuries, jack williamson, kieri, land, oregon, oregon trappers association, otter trap, petition, pets, public land, regulations, rules, safety, spinal, spine, state, symbol, trails, trap, trappers, trapping, traps, warnings, wheaten terrier, wildlife
A Saturday climb to the summit of Cannon Mountain marked the completion of Randy “Zip” Pierce’s attempt to conquer all 48 of New Hampshire’s peaks — with his quide dog, The Mighty Quinn.
Pierce is the first blind hiker — and Quinn the first guide dog — to climb “The 48” in one winter, the Union Leader reports.
“I’m blown away by this experience. I’m absolutely exhilarated,” Pierce said, patting his seven-year-old yellow lab. “I’m a little choked up right now.”
“I am extremely proud of him, but I am not one bit surprised he did it. That’s just how Randy is,” said Pierce’s wife, Tracy, who led a group of friends to meet him at the summit with music, noisemakers and bells.
Pierce climbed the peaks in support of 2020 Vision Quest, a non-profit group that raises funds for the New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Pierce, who began losing his vision in 1989 due to a neurological disease and went completely blind in 2000, said he wants to ensure anyone who goes through vision loss has access to services like those that helped him.
The disease also affected his cerebellum, causing such severe vertigo he was confined to a wheelchair from 2004 to 2006. After a series of experimental treatments, he began to walk again.
“The most important thing I can tell anyone is the choice we make in how to respond to our life is going to have a bigger influence on our life than anything else ever could,” he said.
His guide dog, Quinn was presented with the Order of the Golden Biscuit at Saturday’s climb, making him the fourth canine to have completed the 48 peaks in a single winter.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2020 vision quest, animals, blind, climbing, disabilities, first, golden biscuit, guide dog, guiding eyes, hiker, hiking, mighty quinn, mountains, new hampshire, order of the golden biscuit, peaks, pets, quinn, randy pierce, randy zip pierce, the 48, the mighty quinn, winter
So he played a big role in getting a nation hooked on cigarettes. So he was the richest man in the state of North Carolina. So he was the sort of fat cat businessman from whom I tend to initially withhold respect — based on my automatic assumption that they had to crush a lot of butts on their way to the top of whatever heap they are on.
I wanted to hate him — for being the father of my addiction, for the fact that I can’t finish this blog entry without taking a break for one of his products — but, after a little research, I think I almost like R.J. Reynolds, and, even more, the estate he left behind.
Ace and I hang out there at least once a week — roaming the 130 acres that were part of his 1,000-plus acre country home, known as Reynolda.
But what we like best are the hiking trails that take you through thick woods and open meadows, rich with wildflowers and wildlife, past beds of pine needles and vines of honeysuckle so pungently sweet they penetrate even a smoker’s jaundiced nostrils.
I got my start in cigarettes at, probably, age 16, pilfering Salems from my mother. Then I moved on to unfiltered Pall Malls — also a R.J. Reynolds brand, and also pilfered, in this case from a neighbor.
I remember my mother used to put her Salems in little ceramic holders. The little cups with a dozen or so cigarettes in them could be found around the house, serving almost as decorations. She didn’t smoke them that often, and when she did, she didn’t inhale.
I did — first her throat-searing menthols, then the neighbor’s filterless Pall Malls, before working my way up to Marlboros; those, after all, were perceived as the most manly, and didn’t leave you spitting out little pieces of tobacco.
Like most smokers, I ponder quitting at least weekly, most recently last week as I walked the trails of Reynolda, past a vine of honeysuckle that was leaning out into the path, the tiny tendrils of its blossom waving in the wind, like beckoning index fingers.
If only I could be hooked on honeysuckle, I thought. If only its sweet essence could be inhaled. Then I realized that’s exactly what I was doing. As I wondered if honeysuckle might be my salvation, I realized, if somebody studied it enough, honeysuckle could turn out to be bad for us too (though I don’t see how something with “honey” and “suckle” in its name possibly could).
Then too — even if honeysuckle did satiate that urge, and even if I harvested my own and came up with a smokeless way to imbibe it — it would still lack that ease of use that plays such a big role in getting us hooked.
It was R.J. Reynolds who made smoking so convenient.
Reynold was born in Virginia to a tobacco-growing, slave-owning family. He attended two colleges, one of them in Baltimore, and went to work for his father before striking out on his own.
In 1874, he moved to what’s now Winston-Salem to start his own tobacco company. He started his own tobacco company in what was then Winston. There were 15 other tobacco companies in town, but his outgrew them all.
Reynolds was an astute businessman and a hard worker, and he quickly became a wealthy man. He married a woman 30 years his junior, his former secretary Mary Katherine Smith, who, historical accounts suggest, helped bring out his progressive and philanthropic sides.
She successfully urged him to shorten the work hours of employees, pay them more and provide them with meals, schools and nursery services.
When he built what would become Reynolda House, he also had a village constructed nearby where workers could live. It’s now called Reynolda Village, a collection of restaurants and shops. Also on the grounds, golf being his passion, he commissioned a 9-hole golf course, which now serves as the grassy meadow where Ace likes to romp, or just rest.
He also granted endowments to Guilford College, the Oxford Orphan Asylum, and the Baptist Orphanage, in addition to a lot of other charities and churches in the Winston-Salem community. He became the first southern man to establish a hospital serving African-Americans. He donated as well to establish the Slater Industrial School, which became Winston-Salem State University.
R.J. didn’t get to enjoy Reynolda House too long. He died the year after it was completed.
His daughter, Mary Reynolds Babcock, would donate it for use as an art museum, and the Reynolds’ philanthropic ways would continue. About 300 acres of the Reynolda estate was donated to Wake Forest University, which moved from the town of Wake Forest to Winston-Salem in 1956.
Today, the Reynolds family name is stamped on much of Winston-Salem, including the library at Wake Forest, the airport, a high school, a park and an auditorium, and the various components that make up Reynolda — Reynolda House, Reynolda Village, Reynolda Gardens.
(Having recently returned to my ancestral homeplace in Winston-Salem, moving into the modest apartment in which my parents lived when I was born, I thought about naming it and its adjoining patch of grass after me. But I’m only renting, and Woestendieka doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Reynolda.)
My honeysuckle encounter, and the hours I’ve spent slow-walking with Ace around Reynolda, have got me thinking I need to do more walking and less smoking, more pursuing of health and less feeding of urges. They’ve gotten me thinking too about how times change, and how things we were told were OK turn out not to be – like slavery and smoking, which, not to diminish the massive evil of the former, have much in common.
I don’t blame R.J. Reynolds for inflicting the scourge of cigarettes on society. He was a product of his times, peddling a product of his times, and pouring some of the profits back into his community. Far more devious, I think, were the subsequent generations of tobacco pitchmen and the marketing techniques they used, aimed as they were at young people (Camels) and women (Virginia Slims and Eve).
Light up — if you want to be cool, if you want to be sexy, if you want to be liberated, or if you merely want to be a rugged Marlboro man.
Most of us — though it took decades — wised up and saw through that. Smoking is bad, and bad for you — always has been, always will be.
At least, maybe, until they come out with All Natural Smokeless Honeysuckle 100′s, which would have the added benefit of leaving you smelling sweet.
Then, and only then, will we have come a long way, baby.
(For more about visiting Reynolda with your dog, see our next entry.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, addictions, animals, cigarettes, company, dog, dogs, donations, evils, habits, hiking, history, honeysuckle, marketing, north carolina, pets, philanthropy, reynolda, reynolda gardens, reynolda house, reynolda village, reynolds, rj reynolds, slavery, smokers, smoking, tobacco, trails, winston-salem
You don’t want to take him or her to Reynolda House, an art museum now featuring an exhibit by famed railroad photographer O. Winston Link.
And you might want to avoid the formal part of Reynolda Gardens.
But most of the rest of what used to be the vast country estate of R.J.Reynolds, the history of which we told you about in this earlier post, is fair game for dogs on leashes, including at least one restaurant and the K-9 Doggie Bakery and Boutique.
Not all the shops, galleries and restaurants in Reynolda Village welcome your dog inside, but we noted at least one that put out a basket of dog treats on its doorstep.
The sign said “take one.”
Ace, before I could pull him away, helped himself to three.
There are miles of trails that wind through open meadows and shady groves, and alongside the remnants of what used to be a lake. Lake Katherine, as it was known, is more of a marsh now, but a great place to spot birds.
The trails are a great way to work up an appetite, or walk off a meal — and there are two restaurants on the grounds of Reynolda, at least one of which is dog-friendly. Simply Yummy, allows dogs in its outside seating area.
There is no admission to get on the grounds of Reynolda, and it is open during daylight hours year-round.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, free, hiking, k-9 doggie bakery and boutique, leash, leashed, north carolina, pet friendly, pets, reynolda, reynolda gardens, reynolda house, reynolda village, road trip, things to do, trails, travels with ace, village tavern, winston-salem
On the first morning of our camping trip, your intrepid trio — foursome counting Ace — decided to take an impromptu hike, just a slow and casual one, following the Davidson River upstream for a ways to see where it took us.
Our first stop was at a fishing/swimming hole, where a few campers were trying their luck, including a woman who had just learned to fly fish. She hadn’t had much luck that morning, but before that she’d caught some, and she whipped out her cellphone to prove it, clicking her way to the correct photo, then holding it up for us to see, as one might hold up a just-caught fish.
In it, she said, there appeared the ghostly image of a little girl that wasn’t there when the photo was taken.
Not having my glasses, I really couldn’t distinguish anything. But as my two friends seemed amazed, I pretended I was, too, nodding my head and saying ”wow.”
We walked on a bit, Ace being more than up to the task. This is his favorite part of camping — blazing a new, to him, trail.
At one point he clambered up a three-foot tall tree stump. At another he darted in and out of the water, then jumped atop a four foot wall. He showed absolutely no sign of his back bothering him. Despite his fear of the campfire, and the noises it produced, the night before, he was, after two long months, starting to act like himself again. Perhaps the camping trip — as camping trips can do — was curing what the drugs couldn’t.
He ran. He played. The stiffness that seemed to have been bothering him was gone. And when he shook, it was all out, with gusto — not that fearful tentative headshake he has been doing of late.
When we came to a fork in the trail, we let Ace pick the direction, and he chose left — up a mountain, instead of following alongside the river. Not a rigorous climb, by any stretch, but I still felt it necessary to inform my two doctor friends that I had imaginary peripheral artery disease (IPAD).
Understand that once a disorder/disease/infirmity gets advertised on TV, I become convinced I have it — not enough to talk to my doctor about whatever drug the ad is for, not enough to submit to the numerous side effects the drug ads list, but enough to fret. That’s why I also have imaginary mesothelioma, though, according to advertisements, you want to talk to your lawyer about that, as opposed to your doctor. The cure for that, apparently, is a lawsuit.
(Disclaimer: These diseases are no laughing matter, even though the advertisements, in which drug companies and law firms feign great concern for your well-being, are.)
“Yes,” I explained to Dr. John, “that peripheral artery thing, I’m pretty sure I have it. My legs get tired when I walk uphill.”
This low grade climb didn’t seem to bother me, though. Perhaps Ace’s return to normal was putting a little more spring in my step. I’m convinced our dogs reflect us, and us them — both when it comes to personality and how we’re behaving at a moment in time. What’s harder to figure out, often, is who is doing the projecting and who is doing the reflecting. Am I, for instance, behaving lethargically/bufoonishly/fearfully because Ace is, or vice versa?
Am I low key because he’s low key, or is he low key because I’m low key, and are we both feeding off each other’s low keyedness and becoming more low keyed yet, and, if so, how low can we go before we’re both asleep?
We were both wide awake on this walk — me due to five or so cups of hearty campground coffee, Ace, I think, because of the newness and the nature. When we came to a weathered wooden sign that said “old cemetery,” we followed where it pointed.
After a couple of switchbacks we came to a hill from which a dozen or so gravestones protruded from the ferns. If the stones had names on them, few of them were legible anymore — except for the one pictured at the top of this post.
Buried beneath it was Avo Sentell, who had just turned five when she died — the same day in 1916 as her mother, Susan, who is buried next to her.
We paused, and grew more sober. Amid towering trees – some thriving, some rotting, some dead — we speculated on what it could have been that killed both mother and daughter on the same day.
I told myself I should stop joking about deadly diseases — even though that is how I cope with my own immortality. Call it a survival skill.
Back home after my camping trip with college buddies, I Googled Avo Sentell — Googling being a generally safe activity, whose only side effects are eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and terminal frustration over all the garbage, pop-up and otherwise, that litters the Internet.
Through one of those grave-finding websites, I learned that Avo and her mother were killed in a landslide in Pisgah National Forest during the Great Flood of 1916.
Both were buried at the site of their deaths. I found a group photo that contained Avo — she’s the third from the left in the second row in this picture of the entire student body of English Chapel School. Seeing how tiny she was wrenched my heart a little more.
That mystery resolved, another remained.
It was not whether Avo was the image in the fisherwoman’s photo. We’re not, much, prone to believing in the supernatural, and I doubt Avo’s ghost is haunting the mossy, fern-studded hills — even though we were in Transylvania County.
What I was left wondering about was the tiny pink mitten that was draped over her tombstone. On the mitten are the words “Always Trouble.”
I doubt it was left there as a commentary on her – for the mitten was too modern, and who is left to remember a girl who died 95 years ago? Besides, Avo appears to have been too small to have caused a significant amount of trouble in her life, much less “always.”
Maybe it was dropped by a hiker. Maybe someone else picked it and placed it there so someone might find it. Maybe it was left there as a gift, or commentary on life, by a stranger, or a descendant of the Sentell family.
A bouquet of yellow plastic flowers was at the base of the stone, which was clearly an upgrade — it’s too clean and clear and modern to have been the one that was originally there.
To me, it was also a reminder. Life is fleeting, and sometimes unfair, and there is always — somewhere — trouble. We work. We laugh. We play. We cope. We die.
Sometimes, before the journey’s over, we tackle those troubles. Sometimes we ignore them. Sometimes we joke about them. Sometimes we’re too rushed to pay them any mind at all. Sometimes we let them weigh us down to an unhealthy degree.
At times like those, friends come in handy.
At times like those, a walk in the woods — with your dog — is good.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1916, ace, america, avo sentell, campground, camping, coping, cures, davidson river, death, disease, doctors, dog's country, dogscountry, drugs, fears, flood, ghosts, grave, hike, hiking, illness, imagination, lawyers, life, mountains, nature, north carolina, pisgah national forest, road trip, symptoms, travels with ace, woods
According to the King County Sheriff’s Department in Washington, witnesses reported a man and a woman were playing with two dogs when one of the animals got pulled into a whirlpool in the river below Snoqualmie Falls.
The woman, also 29, apparently went into the water to save the dog also, but was rescued, the Seattle Times reports.
Neither the man nor the woman were identified by name.
King County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said the waters of the Snoqualmie are “very fast and very cold and not conducive to survival this time of year, even for the strongest of swimmers.”
He said people should think twice about going into water to rescue their animals. In this case, he was right, the dog who went into the river managed to get out and is reported to be fine.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, disappears, dog, hiking, king county, man, missing, rescue, river, search, seattle, snoqualmie, snoqualmie falls, washington, whirlpool
David A. Lewis, 29, died Saturday on a hike in Greenville County with his girlfriend and dog.
“His dog got away from him, and started running for the falls. Then he went after his dog and reached for his dog. And as I understand it, when he reached for the dog, they both went over the falls,” Greenville County Deputy Coroner Kent Dill told WYFF
The dog was able to get his footing and get back to level ground, Dill said.
The girlfriend suffered some bruises while trying to make her way down to Lewis.
Lewis was a landscape architect with Earth Designs in Pickens.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, david lewis, death, dog, dog walking, dogs, falls, greenville, hike, hiking, ledge, pet owner, pets, saves, saving, south carolina, walking, waterfall