I’ve been proofing the typeset pages of my memoir this week, which includes several sections about my Lassie, and her death six years ago. As I read through the pages, trying so very hard to concentrate on spelling and grammar, I had to stop, overwhelmed as I was for the deep sense of loss I still feel when I think about Lassie. Six years she’s been gone, and I still miss her. Deeply. Perhaps because she is the last dog of mine to die in my arms. Perhaps because she was one of those special dogs whose life was so pure she seemed almost otherworldly. I don’t know. I just know that as much as I love Willie, Maggie and Tootsie–and I love them more than I will ever be able to express–I still miss my Lassie girl.
In honor of her, and of all the dogs we love so much it hurts, here is what I wrote about her on the day she died, January 27th, 2010. I asked others to add their “six words” to memorialize their own dogs, and the comments break my heart in the sweetest way imaginable every time I read them. You can read their comments here.
Here is what I wrote in 2010:
Lassie went home today.
I am thinking of the famous story about Hemingway, in which he challenged his writer friends to write the shortest story possible. All agreed that he won. Here’s what he wrote:
For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.
Since then, summarizing one’s life in six words has become something of a parlor game. I have done so for Lassie, summarizing what she means to me in six words, and I think it would bring pleasure and comfort to everyone who reads this blog if you were inspired to do the same for your own special dog, and to share them, if you would, for us all to read.
Here’s for my Lassie:
French Vanilla. Ice Cream. Summer Day.
Off you go dear Lassie, my god how I loved you.
I hope you will add your thoughtful six words about any dog you choose, for all of us to savor. I will read them every morning with equal measures of warmth and wonder.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Ah, how clearly the seasons are changing. The sumac is starting to turn orange. The lawn is decorated in the morning with the bowl-like webs of spiders who only seem to weave them as the day begins to shorten. It’s dark when we get up now, and dark before we climb the stairs at night to go to bed.
But it’s also the season of bounty. Sunday morning was spent picking tomatoes at our CSA, Vermont Valley Community Farm and turning some of them into red sauce for pasta. It’s the simplest recipe in the world: Cut roma tomatoes in half, squeeze out the juice and seeds in the sink, chop up in a food processor, add chopped onions, garlic, some spices, and a little red wine, and cook for 1.5-2 hrs. The resulting sauce isn’t as thick as classic marinara sauce, but it’s light and tomato-ey and feels like you’re eating the best of summer when added to a plate of fresh-made pasta in the long, cold months of winter.
I picked about 30 lbs of tomatoes Sunday morning; the tomatoes were so bountiful it took no time at all. Look at this bounty of goodness!
Here they are drying after I gave them all a good wash.
I seeded about 8 lbs of them, cut them into quarters and processed them to the consistency of a chunky sauce. Here they are waiting to be put into the food processor.
The recipe calls for 2 chopped onions, 1 tsp both salt & pepper, 3-6 TB “Italian blend,” (I added oregano and basil), 4 TB red wine, 6-8 cloves garlic minced. Mix all together and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours. After cooking I let it cool, put into plastic bags in the freezer, and all fall and winter I’ll take it out for a quick and delicious dinner.
Tonight I’ll be preserving another 8 lbs into what I call “melted tomatoes.” This is even easier than the sauce: Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise, place cut side up on cookie sheets, dribble with olive oil and fresh cut basil. Cook for several hours in a low oven, 200 or 250 F, until the tomatoes are flat and concentrated. Freeze in batches, and use in pasta or any recipe calling for sun dried tomatoes. My favorite = linguini, sauteed spinach and melted tomatoes in pesto sauce. Yum.