Pheasants, labradoodles, and, eventually, pot-bellied pigs

I’ve spent the last week in the wilds of Barcombe Mills, England with my husband.  It’s been a sort of writing retreat slash dog sitting gig with lots of rain and mud and quiet and several little tasks to clear off my calendar.  As I look out the window, a large pheasant is running up the garden path toward the house and the bird feeder.  There is something comical in the way it runs — rude of me to notice. There is probably something comical in the way I run as well. Let’s assume as much.

It’s lovely to be here.  There is a river to the front of the house and two beautiful swans on the green.  Out the back is a pond the shape of Africa, a metal ostrich, a wooden warthog. The birds at the feeder are all exotic to me, even the ones I know must be ordinary — the wood pigeons, blue tits, wrens and wagtails.  There has been copious rain, which I’ve enjoyed since we are getting so little of it back home.  I am trying to send it in the direction of California with only the power of my thoughts. Let me know how that works out.

It’s wonderful to have dogs again, even temporarily, even when I have to walk them in a blistering gale.  We’re sharing the house with two labradoodles, one large, one small, one light, one dark.  They are sweet-tempered, well-behaved dogs and they have the good life a dog has when there are no children in the house to eat up everyone’s time and attention.  Two walks a day, treats, and attention.  They are well-behaved, as I said, thoroughly lovely, and yet it has been a full dog experience – muddy paws, grass and horse-dung eating, humping, farting, snoring, barking in the night. But also the snuggling, the licking, the moment to moment concern for my well-being.

There is a horse barn next door, loads of rabbits.  I’ve seen no foxes, but of course they are here, and one night there was a tremendous row, both dogs carrying on, and in the morning a sad pile of wood pigeon feathers in the back. This is England the way I picture it, not what I see when I’m in London, but the green fields, the public pathways, muddy streams, the stiles I climb through, just like Elizabeth Bennet, my petticoat, six inches deep in mud.

And then this over my email!  I’m thrilled to direct you this morning to an article written by a brilliant member of my Santa Cruz writing group.  The topic is pot-bellied pigs.  Find it here: