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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

The problem with leaves

Walking the dog

When we moved to Tosa 16 years ago, I couldn't wait for fall and the chance to rake -- and burn -- leaves.

That thrill didn't last long. We couldn't burn leaves for all sorts of good reasons. And once the little kids stopped delighting in jumping in the leaf mountains and became old enough to refuse to rake them, the pleasure became a chore.

A few years back I broke down and bought a leaf blower, under the theory that the use of loud and weapon-like equipment would raise the kids' interest in herding leaves. It was a good idea, but my theory was quickly disproven.

Still, walking among the leaves and wondering at the colors and patterns they make on the paving remains magical. I love the crunching sound when they are dry and stepped upon, and the way they float and drift when you kick them. Someone's burning leaves somewhere: the air smells smokey-crisp.

Idgy loves walking in the leaves for entirely different reasons. She loves to bound like a deer, and the leaves inspire her. It's quite charming.

But her seasonal "job" as doggie paleontologist is another matter entirely. Last year, she discovered that bodies of small mammals are often buried in the leaf piles that line the streets. She'd often sniff, dive, and come up with a mummified vole in her mouth. Manual extraction was often required to remove the offending body. It's a nasty job but sometimes you've got to do it.

This morning we argued about our pace, she wanting to stop and dig for artifacts, me wanting to walk briskly and avoid exhumations.

At one point, she feigned her territory-marking posture, so I stopped. Nose quivering, she dove 18 inches into the curbside pile and arose triumphant, an almost intact squirrel skull in her mouth.

Alas, poor Gray Squirrel. We knew him, Idgy: a fellow of infinite taunting and speed; you have chased him often in vain pursuit, but now you've got him, dead in the leaves, at last.

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