I took a road trip last week. My 15-year old Akita-mix, Juliet, had a tumor on her upper gum, and a good friend is very generous to offer free vet care to my pooches when I bring them to her. So off to St. Louis we went.
When we got there Juliet was the first priority. After x-rays, consultation with a radiologist, and a dental cleaning, surgery began. Three front teeth were extracted, the tumor (which encased one of those teeth) was excised, two additional teeth that had cavities and had the potential to cause trouble down the road were extracted, and her nails received a long-overdue trim. I am grateful that Caroline lets me be present during such things. I got to lay a gentle, energy-affirming hand on Juliet's shoulder and hip while I watched and learned.
Once Juliet was awake and sufficiently alert, she got to spend the evening recovering gently while the adults shifted gears to more fun stuff. I didn't realize how badly I needed this road trip.
For dinner we visited a trendy section of St. Louis where ethnic restaurants abound, settling on Ethiopian cuisine. No silverware, just a thin, spongy bread for grabbing hold of food and getting it to your mouth. I managed not to spill a single thing! A flavorful avocado salad started my meal, and an even more delicious lamb entree filled me up. Having pulled out of the driveway shortly before 5 earlier in the day, however, I was toast. Once back at the ranch I was off to bed.
Thursday was play day. Caroline and I went riding, which was pure joy. Her dog, Wendy, ran and ran and ran through the fields with such delightful abandon while we directed the horses across open meadows and through old woods. It was such fun to watch Wendy romp, roll, splash and play. In one area an old, log cabin outbuilding hinted at the rows of forgotten daffodils that had just bloomed further in the woods. It was like listening to the whispers of a former life, and I hope my smiles of homage were felt by the spirits of those who had gone before.
After riding and a break for lunch we headed to the Missouri Botanical Garden, a favorite haunt from my days living there. Varieties of daffodils displayed themselves as either sentinels of what had already bloomed, or showy heads of the days best offering. It's a spectacular garden, well designed with pleasing walks and niches for respite. I wish we'd had more time to wander through the Japanese Garden and catch the flutter of falling petals from the blooming cherry trees.
Next stop: Ted Drewes, home of its famous frozen custard "concrete." It's a St. Louis staple, not overly sweet, and a perfect afternoon snack. Then--off to Caroline's Mom's to meet and pick up three of Caroline's nephews for an outing at a local go-cart establishment. Confession: I had never gotten behind the wheel of a go-cart. There's a first time for everything! Although I didn't win any races my performance behind the wheel was more than respectable. And let me just say that these were three very fine young men with whom I shared this adventure.
Having talked earlier about Grant's Farm, we popped a few blocks over from the racing venue when we were done to see the Budweiser Clydesdales enjoying the beautiful spring day. Of course I had to get out and take a picture!
Our full day wasn't quite over. Back home over wine and cheese Caroline shared with me a slideshow of photos from the recent trip to New Zealand that she took with her husband, and then we enjoyed a late dinner at a local eatery. In all it was a perfect day, filled with activity outside of my usual range of offerings and opportunities, and nourishing languishing parts of my being.
On our way out of town the next morning Juliet and I stopped to visit the daughter of my late and dear friend Kathy. It had been far too long since we had any time together, and the time flew but, as Carrie herself says, it filled my tank. Blessing. It was all blessing.
I'm not generally a fan of using a blog to write a "what I did on my day off" kind of post, and I'm sorry if this reads that way. This post was written for my own sake, for sharing a time that was uplifting, affirming, and life-giving, filled as it was with more or less ordinary activity. I am so grateful for Caroline--for her care for Juliet, for taking time out of her busy life to spend with me, for being someone with whom I can just be--and for opportunities to dip into an experience outside my usual habitat that help remind me to revisit dormant joys and dreams. It was all good.