It seems that every creature on earth has a different sense of what’s too hot and what’s too cold.
For example, in high summer Edie Wolfe’s dog Nearly spends his days in the deep shade of his human’s back porch while others seek out the sun. In winter, he sticks close to the wood stove while others romp in the snow.
But it’s those in-between times, such as the ones that can happen in early October, that are such a challenge.
Especially if you pride yourself on being a “tough Yankee.”
Let’s check in with Carding’s favorite canine, shall we?
Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.
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Among the dogs of Carding, Vermont, Nearly Wolfe is renowned as an excellent teacher of human beings. Just look at what he’s done with his own human, Edie Wolfe.
Over the years, the handsome cocker spaniel has taught Edie how and when to walk him three times a day, what part of his belly needs patting the most, and that she should never to feed him raisin bagels.
Raisins in bagels? Bleah…
Yes, Nearly has done well…except in one area. He has never figured out how to get Edie to raise or lower the windows of their house to just the right level at just the right moment in order for him to maintain his preferred exterior temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now it’s October and Nearly is determined that something must be done.
Edie sleeps under a quilt (that she made) on all but the hottest of nights and seems to enjoy the bracing temperature of her house at this time of year. As the night wears on, she snuggles deeper and deeper under her covers until her head disappears altogether.
So she’s warm enough.
But down on the floor, Nearly’s bed was cold and he finally decided it was way past time to do something about it. He padded across the room, took a few running steps, leaped and landed in the middle of the quilt-covered bed, right in the spot where the covers are rucked up in small hills and valleys. Edie started but did not wake.
Warmer, Nearly lay down to wait for morning. He knew there would be a scolding—Edie welcomed her dog to sleep anywhere but on her handmade quilt—but Nearly figured it would be shortlived.
And maybe next time, his human would moderate the window openings.
Or make him his own quilt.
Either way, Nearly would be happy.
When Edie finally woke, she frowned at her sleeping dog. Then he heard her growl, a low dark sound at the back of her throat. But nature was calling so she pushed her covers back and put her bare feet on the wooden floor.
She gasped at the cold and then gave Nearly a more thoughtful glance. Scurrying to the bathroom, she whipped a sweatshirt from the back of a chair, yanked it on, and then crossed her arms over its front.
Nearly raised his head a little to watch his human’s progress across the room, satisfied with the impact of his lesson so far.
Soon he heard the slide-bang of closing windows as Edie whirled around the house. When she reached the kitchen, Edie opened her curtains to see the thermometer recording the outside temperature.
“Forty-nine degrees,” she huffed as she whirled around to dig her slippers out of their summer resting place.
Nearly crept downstairs, dreading the cold of his first snuffle of the day in the backyard. He knew it would be quick. Edie squeaked a little as she opened the door for him.
“Brrrr. Sorry boy,” she said.
The kettle whistled and Edie poured water for tea as Nearly trotted back inside. That’s when her eyes landed on the house’s thermostat. Its digital display affirmed that it was cold enough to justify a few moments of heat.
But as Edie raised her hand to turn the furnace on, she thought about the bragging rights she would lose at the Crow Town Bakery over morning coffee. After all, being a tough Yankee meant not giving into the cold too soon and her friends would surely notice the thin trail of smoke from her chimney.
So she’d have to admit to turning on her furnace and when she did, Andy Cooper would slide his eyes her way and say: “Yeah, it’s cold. But you just put on heavier socks and you’ll be fine.”
Then Agnes Findley would point out that the sun was still pretty warm in the afternoons. “I always figure that if you heat up your house in the morning, it will be too hot in the afternoon.”
And so it would go around the table, each participant vying to prove that she or he was the toughest Yankee.
Edie swallowed hard as she let her hand drop. “It’s still early October,” she said to Nearly. “I can’t turn the heat on yet.”
Nearly did his best to look pathetic, hanging his head just enough to let his ears droop forward. But Edie only sighed as she put his food bowl on the counter. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll warm up your breakfast in the microwave. How’s that?”
He sighed and let his body slump into the floor.
“We’re supposed to be tough, Nearly. And it’s not that cold. Forty-nine degrees is not below freezing.”
He sighed again and raised his eyes in the pleading look that he reserved for special occasions.
Edie sighed, deep and loud. Then she laughed at herself. Really, what difference did it make at this point? By the end of the week, she knew that everyone who gathered at the bakery would have fired up their wood stoves or turned on their furnaces.
She punched up the number on the digital thermostat to 65 and after a moment, the furnace in her basement began to purr.
Nearly smiled a little doggie smile. His reputation as an excellent teacher of human beings was secure.
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