And I’m calling him Van Goat. I’ve been making noise about getting a goat for some time now, mainly for the joy of watching the color drain from The Chef’s face. What use would I have for a goat—where would it live, and when on earth would I have time to take care of it? And anyway, what about Scout: What would he do with a goat? Still, The Chef knows it’s hard to dissuade me from pursuing something when my heart’s set on it, so there’s always the possibility I mean it when I say, We need a goat.
So yesterday afternoon, with a bit of ceremony, and a preamble that went something like, “Because I want you to have all the things you really want…” (which actually scared the begeezus out of me), The Chef led me out into the back yard and introduced me to Van Goat. Well played, Chef.
The goat was Chef David’s anniversary present to me, because as of this past Monday, we’ve been a couple, officially, for seven years—for about as long as I’ve lived in Vermont. I don’t know whether there’s an official list of things you’re supposed to give as anniversary gifts, like the list of traditional gifts for each year a married couple celebrates their anniversary, but for unmarried folk like us. I suggest ‘goat’ is a nice choice for the seventh year of being Vermontish ‘nearlyweds’ or whatever it is you call two people who are in it for the long haul but have not tied the knot.
As for Scout, his reaction to the new family member went something like this: “WHOA—who is THAT?” That’s my translation; I’m pretty fluent in doggish, so rest assured this is fairly accurate. After Scout stretched himself out as long as it is possible to stretch without toppling (I wish like heck I’d captured that moment but was not quick enough on the draw), and then gave the Alien Creature a little sniff, he continued with the proper introductions, in the appropriate canine way, which goes something like this: Hey-how-ya-doin’-note-that-I’m-avoiding-direct-eye-contact-because-that-means-aggression-and-I’m-trying-not-to-look-threatening:
Followed by the canine ‘handshake’, also known as the hind quarters inspection:
One day a couple of weeks ago during our early-morning run, Scout’s ears shot forward and he raised his hackles. I pay attention on these occasions, because he sees things long before I do, and sometimes they’re important (unruly dog at the end of retractable leash, just ahead on left, or, loud hooman behaving erratically on sidewalk: Danger!). This time, though, it was hay bales stacked high against a street lamp just outside the police headquarters in our little town, a fall harvest-y kind of decoration. I feel pretty dang protected from hay bales. And then a week or so ago at work, somebody put a teeny scarecrow outside the door of the business downstairs from us. Scout to me: “STAND BACK, HOOMAN! while I inspect the sketchy-looking small hooman-like thing!” Now he just trots on past, flips his head, and says, “S’up” without missing a beat.
And so Scout has now accepted Van Goat as a member of the pack and is not nervous one bit, as you can see in this photo, where I tried to capture most of our new back fence, but was almost knocked senseless by one Goldapeake Retriever barreling towards me with joie de vivre, as he does. (Hence his blurriness.) I have learned to stand still on these occasions. He turns on a dime, at the very instant you expect a collision, and should you decide to move—that is when he’ll nail you at speed. One time he plowed into me with so much force he knocked a shoe off my foot and sent it sailing clear across the yard. Not making this up. And should you be concerned for his well-being, rest assured he just keeps on going whilst the hooman lady winces in pain and commences to licking her wounds.
Elsewhere around the homestead, Chef David is just about to finish the two-year-long fencing project, now in its final stretch. Today he worked on building a new gate for access to this mostly hidden section of yard, through which the oil is delivered for our furnace and the propane for our cooktop. The gate that came out was a rotted eyesore and had long given up the ghost. There’s not much to do now besides paint.
Meanwhile, after early church and yoga this morning, I baked a skillet of my great-grandmother Gracie’s cornbread and shook my fist skyward at her, for her vague instructions: ‘Add milk until consistency is right,’ and ‘Bake ‘til golden.’ Dammit, Granny Grace, I need specifics. Still, it turned out well. I find it interesting her recipe is what you’d call ‘Yankee’ cornbread, with a little sweetness to it. I heated up the last bit of the butternut squash soup I made last weekend and plunked in a wedge of cornbread, which made a divine lunch.
It feels like fall now in the early mornings and evenings, more summer-like midday. First frost will be here soon, and the leaves are turning. It’s a beautiful time of year to be in New England. I’m feeling a little worn down, have some annoyances to deal with on the horizon, and shall turn in early tonight. I’m forever a student of dogs, and note how they seem to know exactly what to do—with curious little goats who turn up in the back yard, or hay bales, or simply being worn out at the end of a long day. And I know one in particular who won’t let anybody get his goat.