Each summer, the view of the
reservoir lake from the back of the cottage where we stay, inside of the Adirondack Park, is a tiny bit different … if you know what to look for. This time, because of the drought, the level of the lake was down about 10-15 feet. Not a lot of boat traffic unless you live here year round and had put your boat into the water in June or July.
That was okay.
Our agenda was pretty simple. Escape from work schedules, read lots of books, visit with friends, hike a new trail; linger over meals, gather rocks, poke along the shore line, and play with Lulu and Kiya, the lake dogs.
This would be the summer when I would (finally) get some photos of the two of them in the same shot.
I’d been thinking about these two dogs since last summer … wondering how much bigger Kiya would be. Would that orange ball have survived an entire year or would there be a new toy that Lulu would drop at our feet, inviting us to play?
As we unloaded the car and hauled our bags inside, I kept an eye out for any kind of activity down the hill along the shoreline. No one in sight and no dogs to be had.
Later that afternoon, we sat on the back deck catching up with J., our land lady. We’d heard, from friends who live year round in the Utica area, that one of the houses on the road was for sale. When we’d checked it out, for ourselves ( online) we discovered that the property up for sale belonged to N., Lulu’s owner.
“What’s up with that?” we asked.
It had been a hard winter for N. His wife had gotten sick. She had had a recurrence of “something” that she’d had been diagnosed with years earlier. Faster than anyone expected, she died. Shortly after that, N’s daughter came to stay with N. She brought her dog named Brownie.
Brownie was slightly bigger than Lulu with white and brown speckled fur that suggested she could be part English setter. Except that her coat was short and she had a lean, hound body and Husky-blue eyes. We saw her once during the week of our stay.
The thing about Brownie was that she liked to run along the highway that backed up to N’s house. And, because Lulu was never tied up outside, she’d go running with Brownie.
It got to be the July 4th weekend. Lots of people staying on the lake. Lots of people on the road heading farther north. Brownie and Lulu were out and away from the lake, running on the road, when Lulu was hit by a car. By the time N got to where her body lay, she was dead.
I listened to J describe all that had happened to N and felt my heart grow still.
So much loss.
We saw N a couple of times that week but, we never had the chance to talk with him. On the mornings when the sun was out, he’d drive his golf cart down the road in front our our cottage to get to the wide path leading down to the water. In summers past, Lulu was either riding shot gun or running alongside with her ears flapping back in the breeze.
While N checked out the shoreline, Lulu would be up to her belly in the water, fishing. Theirs was a partnership of water and sky; silence and sun warming the rocks as the day got started. No real need for conversation. Each knew what to expect from the other.
N once told me that he never really knew how Lulu came to like fishing so much. She just did from the day he brought her home from the animal shelter in one of the nearby towns. He took her down to the lake every day and she did the rest. Some days, she went without him.
She used to show up on our deck, her nose pressed to the sliding glass door with her tail wagging slowly. Hers was a clear invitation to us to come out and play.
I missed her this summer. Walking down to the lake became learning a different rhythm; getting used to that feeling of not knowing what to do with your hands when you want to reach down, pick up a ball and throw it so that Lulu could bound into the water to bring it back.
The lake was just as enticing but it was emptier without her at the water’s edge. Lulu had always been there. Now, she was not.