Irene Looney is librarian at the smaller of the two libraries in the County I now call home. I met Irene when I stopped in last year looking for a book on the history of the area. There is a highway placard on a bridge across from the library that claims the river that borders my property was used by early fur trappers to transport their furs 60 miles by canoe down to market. I thought that was cool so I wanted to know more. Irene sold me a beautiful leather bound book for 65 dollars. The book, although interesting, had no mention of my river or trappers navigating to market. Since Irene is the only person I know in the area that has a computer with internet access I stopped in to ask her if it would be ok to come in from time to time to post my blogs. She reminded me that the computer was County property and she would have to know the content before she could say yes or no on the matter. With her permission I brought up my posts to date and let her read them. Although Irene was one the best educated town members I had met so far, I was curioius what she might think of my early ranting. There is, after all, no Walmart within 60 miles, the bank is independantly owned, the only doctor in town works out of his house and invites patients to” just stop by”. The most serious issue in this week’s County newspaper was the removal of a family of raccoons from the drop ceiling in the County clerks office. I didn’t know if Irene would understand the anger I had left behind. With a great deal of seriousness she slowly and deliberatley read every word. When finished she squinted at the screen for a moment, looked up and asked, “Do you have a dog yet?" It wasn’t a minute later that I had agreed to have lunch with Irene and to meet Dooley the dog. The dog in my imagination when I decided to move to the woods was named “Ole Blue” but Dooley seemed a good name for a hound dog companion. I wasn’t about to accept just any hound. The dog I had pictured sitting on the porch of my cabin was a red tick hound, strong, brave, ready to sacrifice itself to protect my chickens and goats, and yet perfectly happy to sit in the passenger seat of my pick-up with its head out the window, long floppy ears flapping in the wind, or curled up next the potbelly stove on a cold winter night. He would never be further than 15 feet away as I worked my garden or walked down the mountain to the spring. He would listen as I complained about the weather or bragged about my tomatos. At lunch Irene warmed up some fried chicken and mashed potato leftovers. She told me about her enterprising brother who thought it might be a good idea to put in a quarter slot cinderblock self-serve car wash on a lot her mother had left her on the edge of town and of her son-inlaw who had developed some respiritory distress from breathing pesticide dust while working at the Taylor’s Market, a combination grocery, hardware and feed store down the street. Finally, when I had properly finished my lunch and rinsed off my plate she said, “Lets call Dooley, I think he’s out back huntin’ rabbits”. We went out on the back screened porch then down into the yard At the edge of the yard was a tall grass meadow and further up the hill a stand of woods. Irene called and clapped her hands and I looked up to the tree line expecting to see Dooley come running out with rabbit in mouth. As I watched, something caught my eye in the meadow. It looked like a small brown animal on a see-saw. First its nose would pop up and then its tail… nose,tail,nose,tail.. coming right at us. At one point it stopped and dissapeared completely. I looked back up the tree line again expecting Dooley break out in full stride. Surely he would love chasing this small animal whatever it was. The small animal that finally broke out of the meadow was, as you may have guessed, Dooley. The only thing he had in common with “Ole Blue” were two floppy ears. I knelt down to be polite and Dooley came right to me and seemed anxious to jump into my arms. (I discovered later that Irene had slipped a piece of chicken in my shirt pocket as I helped her clear the table.) I made it immediately clear I was looking for a more traditional country hound, one that was tall enough to walk across the low water crossing into my land without a snorkle. Irene asked, “How about some pie?” Driving back to my secret cabin in the woods I looked over at my imaginary dog, Ole Blue. He was sitting brave and strong in the passenger seat, head out the window, ears a flopping. On the floorboards in the backseat, asleep, was Dooley. Irene sold me Dooley for $65. I should never have had that pie.
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