Friday, January 22, 2010

Long Island Iced Tea

It's cold out there. Freezing. The wind is whipping swells across the bay. We are ready to board the commuter boat across winter waters to Long Island. Last stop of the line. Farthest island in Casco Bay. And its cold. Really cold. Blustery. Too cold for this fair weather adventurer. Even on a heated covered ferry. But that's where we are heading. Out onto the open Gulf of Maine. In January. My trusty black lab Bailey, my dear friend and me. LL Bean totes filled to the brim with weekend gear and doggy supplies. Banana bread and rosemary scones for our hosts. Salad fixings from the mainland. Nope. No grocery there.

We're not even taking the car. What a hoot. Bailey, the most timid, scared of the noise her own tail makes when it wag slaps the table, dog in New England. In New England for god's sake. Where the ubiquitous bandana clad Labrador bounds over beaches leaping into the air hankering for that errant frisbee sailing on high or a sopping wet tennis ball flailed at top notch speed into the surf skipping like a stone over the frothy waves sliding over the seaweed and kelp. No she is not the loopy, I'll do anything you want me to do retriever of TV ads and saccharine sweet movies.

Opposite. She doesn't give a ball a second glance. Never. Has no idea what to do with it. No over-eager retriever like Bosco and Chance her canine cousins in Massachusetts. Each filling a stretched out jowl with three tennis balls trying to stuff in the fourth. Not my Bailey. My darling rescue dog saved from a kill shelter in Georgia a few summers ago with a belly full of pups. My lab who hates loud noises and sticks and balloons. Bailey is a thinker. Won't step where angels fear to tread. Digs in her heels with an 'I dare you to make me' attitude not befitting a canine companion of the retriever brand. A scaredy cat really. Not one brave or adventuresome bone in her sixty-five pound body. Nary a one.

Bailey is way outside her comfort zone. She may as well be getting ready to board the space shuttle. Begrudgingly tugging at her leash as I coax her ever so slowly across the gang plank onto the boat bound for the out islands. Straining with all her might, the Gentle Leader starts to come unraveled. Wow. She's determined not to board. Her paws gripping the floor like Crazy Glue slinking like a Navy Seal under the bullet fire. Embarrassing. Very. Our bags unbalancing me like a fallen timber slung over one shoulder. Steady there. I need to get her to step over the lip onto the deck. Over the Styx. Treats strewn like Hansel and Gretel milestones along the gangway. C'mon Bailey. You can do it, sweetie.

One step at a time. Terror filled eyes. Hers and mine! She doesn't budge. We are holding up the line. Folks behind us are losing their patience. Hell, I am too. My dear friend swallows a belly laugh. I want to cry! Finally her feet come unglued and she hurls us toward the bench where we collapse in a heap, canvas tote bags littering the aisle. Relax, Bailey. Uncoil. Fold into the scent of the damp ocean air which you love so much. You did it. Phew! Can't believe we have to go through this again tomorrow on the way back! I am drained. Fried. My dear friend reaches into his canvas sack and pulls out a silver toned shaker beads of frost dripping. And two paper cups. I laugh knowingly. Our adventure has begun.

Come to me martini ... dry with three olives. Up. Cheers! Tomorrow is another day.

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