Here I am watching the U of M/Alabama football game changing between it and the Detroit Tigers hosting the Chicago White Sox. I had planned all along to watch both of these games tonight, I just hadn't planned on being home since 3:30 this afternoon to prepare for it.
This weekend, Labor Day weekend, the natural ending of summer in Michigan, as schools prepare to go back was to be the weekend of the hunt trial test that would give our Gauge his final pass and his Master title. Well, that plan was screwed over last weekend when Gauge failed on his last series of 3, acing the first two and really not looking awful on the third, but enough that he was failed. Disappointment reigned as we were so close, but many good dogs failed so Kurt immediately signed up for a hunt test in Indiana, the weekend after Labor Day, to hopefully pick up that title. Training went great this kind of, last week. Many of the young trainers had titled in junior last week and were done for the season. It was a smaller crowd at our Thursday tailgate, but our southern pro's brought shrimp and we grilled them along with some Michigan vegetables and had a feast. A final training drill to stop some dogs with breaking tendencies was great fun and Gauge remained calm among a sea of barking dogs, lunging for the decoy bird.
The day even seemed to cooperate as the heat of last weekend was tempered by a cooling breeze this time and even though we had a late draw, the heat wasn't a factor this time. I am a mess watching Gauge run these things. I would be fine if I were the one handling him, but to watch takes me back to all those Little League games and watching Korey pitch and Annie's high school softball pitching duels. I was often told to go "walk" while she was pitching as I was so nervous I would be pacing behind the backstop. When she batted I was fine, but her pitching about did me in. I was tempted to go to the back when Gauge ran. I hadn't watched him run at all this year until the last series, last week which he failed. I wanted to label me jinx, and just disappear until he was done, but I sat there. He hunted the flyer longer than most of the other dogs, but ran both blinds beautifully. In fact, the second long blind, which had required several handles by most dogs, he got with out a one, eliciting applause from all of us watching. I thought the last two marks would be a piece of cake for him. I noticed he wasn't heeling to Kurt behind the blind as normal before the marks were shot, but seemed all right on the first short mark, but the second long one, he broke. When a dog breaks, there is no judge's discretion, the dog is done. Gauge never breaks, I was just stunned. He never breaks. But as we all say when our dogs do something unexplainable, they're dogs. And that's it. It doesn't make us feel a whole lot better, but it is the most succinct explanation we can come up with.
We went over to the other Master to tell our good friends Gauge was out already. I wanted to stay and watch some of our friends in senior division but they were just setting it up and it would be another hour before any of our friends were up. Kurt just wanted to go home, so we went. It was a quiet ride home.
Kurt was disappointed and I felt like a grand ending to a very good summer had been replaced by a dull thud. A quiet whisper. This summer which had started with such trepidation had blossomed into something rich and rewarding as Kurt and I took baby steps on the path to retirement and found we could do it. Summer training became our "cottage on the lake", as we relaxed with our good friends and enjoyed all the new trainers we met, and some new friends in the making. I, once again, found the things I had always loved, my garden, my quilting, and my home. We took long bike rides together and found a summer rhythm. I loved, as I always have getting up with the sun and long, summer sunsets.
But the summer marched on and the days were noticeably shorter. There was a cooling of the night air, (gratefully after the long hot summer we endured). Tinges of fall color on trees and bushes was showing itself and school ready to begin. I took a part time job at my church's school, something I was excited about, but would remain an unknown for the first few weeks until we figured out how it would roll. I start on Tuesday so I knew this would be last week of training. I would be saying goodbye for all intents and purposes to the pro trainers from the South. Angie, Kevin, Kim and Lynn would head back to the South in a couple of weeks. The magical days at Omega would be drawing to a close. I knew this was the last hunt test we would do this year and as I found in everything now, you have to treasure what you have RIGHT now. There may be no "next year". So, it was with great loss that I headed home today. The page on the summer needed to be turned, even if I wanted it to stay golden and green for a while longer.
I walked outside after everything was unloaded and noted that my potted plants looked sorry indeed and hauled out the hose to water. We had been in another dry spell so I watered some of my hydrangeas and as I walked around I noted the things I wanted to do this fall with the flower garden. Without even thinking on it, I felt better. Back in the house, after an excellent pasta dish, I threw together, I realized I had the evening unexpectedly to do what I wanted. In many ways it was a gift. I could read, ....I could get the number template done for the baby quilt. And I could write, an unexpected prize tonight. Tomorrow would also be a gift of time, I may not have later on. May the Good Lord grant me the wisdom to use it wisely...
Good bye summer, but perhaps you can linger a few days longer....