79. Foreign Correspondent

Dear Tera,

Long time no see! I write this from the new residence – the Kemptville outpost where our pack has expanded its operations. 

This is the third point in our triangulation.  You know of our Ottawa residence right near Windsor Park.  I’ve told you about our second outpost – the cottage, where Lily and I spend our summer days stalking minnows. 

And now we have extended our empire to this little town.  Lily and I leave our scents on the lawns along Clothier Street, from the church and the school in one direction to the pub in the other.

Yes, we have more and more ground to cover and to keep free from cats and squirrels.  We expand our living space.  But we have no territorial ambitions in Poland.

However, maintaining such a vast and extensive empire requires division of responsibility.  The Mom is in charge of the Kemptville domains, ably assisted by Sporty and Sunshine.  Alpha and the Pup keep the home fires burning at their headquarters near Windsor Park.

Lily and I, of course, are the hardest working members of the entire operation.  No one else seems willing to take on the important jobs of leaving scents on the grass, the poles and the fire hydrants to establish new boundaries and maintain the old ones.  We spend time divided between both residences and we have much ground to cover.

In fact, it’s been several weeks now that I’ve helped to manage the Kemptville estates.  I miss you and all my other friends from the park, but I have important duties here, and I am sure that I will return to you soon with all kinds of stories about adventures in strange places.

And this town is indeed a strange place – full of exotic smells and new experiences.  We live, it seems, very close to the centre of town, and yet, very close to the countryside as well.  The streets are quieter, and the nights are so quiet you can hear dogs barking from far away.  And trains.  The distant wail of trains.

Most curious of all are the walks.  As you know, our neighbourhood around Windsor Park is blessed with all kinds of alternatives.  Sometime we take our humanoids for an inspection of the shops, sometimes the back streets where our neighbours live, and almost always the perambulations wind up in the Park.  We have the best of many worlds.

And if I had to choose the best route of all, my vote would be the walks along the river.  So many sights and smells!  The mud.  The water.  The tangle of vegetation.  The ducks.  The food that people leave behind for the ducks – but which is often just as tasty for our palates!

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to stroll with your pack along a river bank, enjoying a fine day in late autumn when the sun slants in so low in the sky that the river sparkles and the shadows reach long into the park.  Get down along the river bank and you feel that you’re back out in nature.

But now, what do I make of Kemptville?  On the one hand, it feels very much as if we ought to be out there in the heart of nature.  The river runs through the middle of the town.  I can smell it from our front porch.  On some days, I can detect the wonderful aromas of nearby farms – we’re that close to the country.

And from our front yard, I can look across the street and down an alleyway, and I can see the tangle of brush a few hundred yards away.  That’s Kemptville Creek, and a couple of miles downstream, it joins up with the Rideau River, and eventually the water that I smell flows past Windsor Park.

You, my dear Tera, will have a better chance of seeing that water go by.  You’ll even have a chance to put your paw in it – maybe even swim in it in the summer if your humanoids aren’t watching. 

But you can’t get close to it here in Kemptville.  There are no public paths along the river.  There is no public right of way behind the houses whose back yards stretch down to the riverbank.  And it’s clear that there are also no volunteers to cut away the Manitoba maples and the underbrush, so for most of the length, you can’t see the river at all.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.  I miss many things when I’m on duty in our Kemptville outpost, but what I miss most is being able to connect with the river.

Pass the word along to our colleagues.  That park and its access to the river is such a precious resource for dog and humanoid alike.  I’m very proud of the way we’ve maintained it.  I look forward to returning to it and, when Alpha stops for a rest at that park bench near the fallen tree, I think I’ll just lie down at his feet and join him in enjoying the view.

          A little bit homesick,