Mom says that she lived in California for many years without ever smelling smoke in the Stuck House places. But for as long as I’ve been a man-dog there have been a few days or weeks every summer when the world disappears and everything smells like camping. Come to think of it, one of those times when the world disappeared was the first time I saw everyone wearing masks. It scared me then, but now it’s normal for everyone to dress like highway bandits. Maybe the smoke is becoming normal too.
Grey Bridge, it got dreary again. Everything around us was the color of cigarettes and faded like an old picture, and it smelled like burning. “This isn’t fog…” Mom said. No matter how far we drove, it stayed that way.
This time I bravely jumped from rock to rock and didn’t even need the leash to convince me to follow Mom across the raging stream. “Look how brave I am!” I told Mom when I jumped onto the sandy bank on the other side. “Uh, yeah… It’s a lot easier when the river is low and you don’t need to get your feet wet.”
wrong time of year and when you come back the same trail that kicked your butt is a piece of cake. Maybe when you think, “What’s wrong with me?” you should be thinking, “That trail isn’t ready for me yet.”
Mom may try to hide it, but she is weird. When we got back to the river at the bottom of the trail, she ignored the stepping stones and marched right into the water, socks, shoes and all. She untied the sweatshirt from around her waist, threw it into the river, and dunked it. Then she sat down in a pool until the water came almost to her chest. “What are you doing?” I sniffed from my dry spot on a tall rock. “I’m cleaning up,” she said. “I’m sweaty, and smelly, and dirty, and covered in bug spray. And this sweatshirt is drenched in sweat and it’s the only one I brought.” I watched her splash in the water until her shorts were soaked, and then when she stood up I watched all the dirt that she’d stirred up sparkle in the sun before settling back to the bottom. When I could see the bottom again, I saw something else. It was the color of an underripe strawberry and bigger than two Vienna sausages stuck together. “A LOBSTER!” I barked. “It’s not a lobster, it’s a crayfish,” Mom said. Then she thought for a second. “Crawdad? I don’t know… I’m from New England, I have no word for that creature.” She splashed her hand into the water and tried to catch it, but it scurried away under a rock. “I sure hope he’s okay, poor guy,” Mom said. “Why wouldn’t he be okay?” I asked. “He got away.” “Yeah, well…” Mom’s mouth squiggled up like a curly bracket. “I peed in that water before I stood up,” she admitted.
Oscar the Pooch
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