I was barely out of the car when Bonnie and Clyde unexpectedly engulfed me in the parking lot and tumbled me over laughing to the ground. Jacque had released them from the back yard after they sent up a chorus of howls upon hearing my car.
“They’ve missed you!” she called from somewhere.
I hadn’t seen the crew in almost three weeks. They greeted me like no other dogs or humans had before. When I opened the trunk to load up on treats, Clyde jumped into the trunk! Bonnie was dancing around and making new barking sounds.
We cruised the pasture on an overcast day, Bonnie on the leash, Clyde loping in slow motion. Something felt a little heavy in my pea coat. I reached into a pocket and discovered a Fort George Brewery Cavatica stout, unused from a previous beach walk. Dark bliss! And the dogs would undoubtedly love treats soaked in stout!
I cracked open the beer and sipped and walked with the dogs. My mind drifted: I had lost so much the last 18 months. I had died. A total extinction of self. In that death, I had found something new and enlivening and I realized now it had started with Bonnie and Clyde offering the best of human qualities that so rarely appear in humans. I also found the magic that flows in a special relationship with a river that involves so much more than taking fish from it.
We reached our usual spot and traipsed through the mud to stand at the river’s edge. Incredibly, the red bra was still hanging in the willows. Even more incredibly, a blue heron was poking around it.
I dug out some treats, soaked them with stout, and fed Bonnie and Clyde. They devoured them. More treats, more stout. I even poured some cream into Clyde’s mouth and reckoned he was the only dog in the world at this moment in time drinking stout near a river.
Something hit me: let’s have a party or partay as my former otherworldly best friend used to say it with a glorious hillbilly drawl. Christmas was coming so why not a Christmas party with Bonnie and Clyde!
We needed a Christmas tree. I drained the last of the stout and then held it like a quarterback ready to throw a football. I looked around for receivers. I spotted one, a six-foot high Sitka spruce, one of the new trees planted in recent years to enhance the riparian area. I’d had a hand in planting about 10,000 of the same species in coastal watersheds in my Oregon life and I wanted to plant 10,000 more.
The can spiraled through the air toward the tree. It wedged between some branches. A completion! Our Christmas tree! I would decorate it more thoroughly upon our return and then Bonnie and Clyde and I would celebrate Christmas together on the river, probably in rain. There would, of course, be presents. The damn beavers better show!
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