I kiss Lola approximately 100 times a day and not a single one of those smooches feels any less important than the rest. Because love isn't a grand gesture, it's a collection if itsy bitsy nothings that carry it through, like making someone their favorite tea in the morning or meeting them for lunch during their work day or reading them a poem that made you think of them. I only realized that about 2 months ago, after searching for grand gestures for so long and not finding them to be satisfying.
She is the first being that has really let me detach the shadow of my ego and act in pure purpose of another. I supposed that is part of growing up. For so long I was the child, the loved one, the person whom inspired others to act selflessly - now I have become the mother, the nurturer, the one who loves without condition.
Three weeks ago, a large brown box appeared from Ruffwear. I unwrapped it like a Christmas present. Lil Lo, my 1-year-old Catahoula, laid on the couch watching but not concerned. I unearthed the beautiful bright blue doggy life vest. I don't know why I thought it would help her. Would it make her feel safe? Or did it just make me feel safe? I called her over and wrestled the thing over her head. Something was off.... the stiff front of it pushed into her neck and her tail stuck out the back hole uncomfortably. I looked at the picture online and realized it was backwards. I took it off, turned it around, put it back on, and tightened the belly straps. She looked unsure.
4 days later, we took it for a test run at Coot lake. Lola had never really liked the water. Understandably, she was scared by it's mystery. Usually when we passed the lake, she stared into it and then looked back up at me as if to ask if it was safe. When she saw other dogs jumping in after balls, she would sit at the bank and whine. This time, I tried to coax her in my standing in it myself. She got one paw wet, but then retreated. We stayed for 30 minutes. Mothers are supposed to be patient, right? I tried forcing her into the water but that only seemed to convince her of the terror. I waited more. She whined on the shore. And suddenly, she jumped in after a dog lunging for a soggy, oblong toy. She didn't make it far. Upon realizing she was now immersed in water, she quickly scrambled her way back out of the lake, but it was a start.
We drove from Boulder to Fruita in the mid afternoon to avoid the hellish traffic that is I-70. The problem with Colorado is that everyone comes there expecting to be alone in the wilderness and they find themselves with everyone else in the wilderness. I stopped to pee at a rest stop and tied her up outside because the car was too hot for habitation. When I came out there were three kids rubbing her belly.
The next day I spent $90 and two hours renting an inflatable kayak for two. The guy who blew up the boat for me asked who else was riding in it. I point to Lola who was feverishly trying to chew off the life jacket. We put in the river at about 11 o'clock - Lola and I and 6 other friends.
The Colorado is magnificent, not for its powerful surge between stark red canyons, but for it's ability/fortune/destiny to sustain life. Water is this humble, boring liquid that in reality makes possible every last thing that we do - cooking, working, living. Lola doesn't see it that way. This river is a great unknown and she kicks her feet as I throw her into the kayak. Managing to get her in and myself and kick off from the shore proves to be a multi-step process, but once we are in, the world becomes calm.
Lola sits in front, the captain of the ship, keeping track of each bird that passes in front of us. She leans on my left leg, with all of her weight, and I can tell that it makes her feel safe. I have a paddle in hand, but our purpose on this trip is to do nothing. To float as the river takes us. I let go control. Of many things.
We ride like this for hours before stopping on a pebble beach along the way. We are surrounded by canyon walls that tell us of hundreds of thousands of years of this rivers power, carving away it's own deep path. An eagle sails from one side to the other. Lola keeps a close eye on it. Its fourth of July weekend, and I can't think of anything more patriotic than floating the Colorado with my dog and eagles.