Late November in the Northeast can be surprisingly cruel. The last vestigal warmth trickles slowly out of the mid-month days and a sudden shaft of glacial cold slashes down from Canada, catching all unprepared. Oddly, by mid-December, it may again be almost pleasant, but the weeks before are often bitter and sobering.
Early Thanksgiving morning in the city can be strangely quiet. The shopping days are done. Those who cook are already long about in warm kitchens; those who don’t, sleep in. Football will be watched. Reservations will be fulfilled. Guests will drive; arrive. But not yet. It’s warm within, cold without. It’s early. There’s time.
The sun seemed pointless that morning. A simulacrum. The streets were empty as I headed to my car, caught a glimpse, turned. A ragged, filthy dog. Cantering toward me, lost, mindless. Just running.
I stopped and called. The dog stopped.
Not much more than a pup, really. No collar, abandoned. Dirty fur matted with ice. Confused, but grateful for the small gift of notice. Too sad. But the world was a blizzard of sad stories. And this – just another, smaller one.
The dog ran off, toward the intersection. It wouldn’t be long now. Hopefully quick and painless. I heard a sound. Not a rising screech of rubber, something unexpected:
I was whistling. The dog stopped.
And came back.
I wrapped her in a lap blanket, put her in my car. I drove – she slept – across states – to my home. Warmth. My wife. Warmth and Home.
A meal and a bath. A long nap on a soft pillow. So, so happy. No longer lost, our Thanksgiving spaniel.
Our now-shiny Penny.
Our unexpected treasure.
Penny has shared our adventures for fifteen years now. Her wild, exuberant, tennis ball chasing days are over: she’s old and can’t get around too well now, but she’s still the happiest, sweetest-natured dog anyone could ever hope for.
We never knew how old she was when we found her, so we decided to make Thanksgiving her birthday (not coincidentally because it’s also a day of special treats.)
She most likely won’t be with us next year, so on this day I just wanted to say Happy Birthday – and thank you – to Penny, our special friend, who was plucked from the blizzard of sad stories – and showed us how to be truly happy.
Please join us tomorrow to find out more about our new recipe for Pomegranate-Infused Ginger Chicken With Sesame Scallion Dumplings as we return to our regular food blogging.
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