And six months later we got Clio, although mere weeks before I swore I’d never be ready for another dog. I remember that day with odd clarity as well, but I won’t bore you with the details. I can’t believe we’ve known her six months! It feels as though we’ve just met. It feels as though I’ve known her forever! I was thinking that it’s funny that we named her Clio, the muse of history, because dogs are natural historians, uncovering layer upon layer of the past with their sharp noses. And I feel as though I could measure out my life according to the dogs we had. From childhood dogs to Steenbeck, the first dog that was my adult responsibility, a daughter-dog, if you will. And now to Clio, who is my son’s first puppy. I could define eras in my life by which dog we owned at the time. I have a little memory of myself as a changing person with each dog, like a polaroid snapshot. Tessie died after I’d left for college, which felt like growing up, and felt horrible. A few years later I tried to adopt Easy and couldn’t do it, I wasn’t ready. Which felt like not growing up at all. Memories of Clio will be so vivid to my boys – how she cuddles with them when they’re sick, how she races around like a mad thing when they play in the yard. Clio is so much like Steenbeck that it’s spooky at times, it’s like history repeating itself. It might seem strange to say it, but when Steenbeck died, it felt as though she’d already left some hours or days before. Her body was stiff and her eyes were vacant. All summer I felt her spirit in the yard, or maybe I just needed to. I’d sit out in the dark warm night and talk to her. We don’t know for sure how old Clio is, but it’s less than a year. I suppose this is something I need to believe, too – that when Clio makes a certain face, or stretches in a certain way, or gives me a look with her bright, smart eyes… Well, it’s too foolish to put into words! But my memories of Steenbeck are fading into my knowledge of Clio, and I don’t feel as bad about it as I might, I think she’d understand. I suppose it’s a comfort to believe that everything is connected. It’s all a part of our history, of ourselves as changing people, moving through the world.
This year the last days of winter are decidedly not unseasonably warm! The weather is grey and icy and dripping. And so, we made chocolate oatmeal cookies. Our natural antidepressant. This is a sort of variation on oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, I suppose, with a little element of flapjack thrown in. The chips are melted, but not incorporated too thoroughly, so you find some nice patches of solid, soft chocolate. The cookies are quite crispy, very tasty, and very comforting.
Here’s Dog on Wheels by Belle and Sebastian. It’s not a real dog, but it’s a childhood memory.
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
2 T golden syrup
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375.
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter and brown sugar and golden syrup. Once the butter is just melted, transfer to a big bowl, and set the pan aside (you don’t have to wash it!)
Beat in the vanilla, and then add all of they dry ingredients and mix well.
Put the chocolate chips in the buttery pan, and return to low heat. Cook until the chips are about half melted. Give it a stir, and then pour the chips over the oat mixture. Mix briefly, you don’t want the chocolate too well-incorporated, because little chocolatey pockets are part of the appeal of these pictures.
Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto lightly buttered baking sheets, and bake 6 or 7 minutes, until the bottoms start to brown. Move to a cooling rack and let set. They’ll be very crumbly when they’re warm, but they’ll firm up and crisp up as they cool.