On Homesickness and Dogs

I’m continuing blogging about dog stories this week.  It’s in honor and memory of my best friend, Ivory.  This yellow lab died last week after a rich life of 14 years.

I’ve repeated the “punch line” in this story thousands of times since it occurred twenty years ago.  My son Clint still cringes when I tell it.

Clint Iles feeding his calf, "Norman"  circa 1992
Clint Iles feeding his calf, "Norman" circa 1992

Picture this scene: a father and two young sons huddled around a camp fire in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains on the fourth day of a hiking trip.

As the fire warmed and comforted us, our mouse friend enjoyed leftover pieces of our macaroni supper.

As we sat there and just enjoyed the sounds of the night, I looked over at the boys.

Clint, who was age six at this time, caught my attention.

He was staring deeply into the fire.  The reflection of the flames lit his face and in the corner of his eyes I saw tears welling up.

I quickly recognized what he was feeling, because I’ve felt it many times myself when deep in the woods at dusk.

I quietly asked, “Clint, what are you thinking about?”

He sighed and stared blankly into the fire, then blurted out, “I wonder what the dogs are doing back home?”

With that, a tear trickled down one cheek.  Moving over by him, I put my arm around him and said, “I don’t know what they’re doing right now, but I’ll sure be glad to see them tomorrow night, won’t you?”

The three of us all sat silently staring into the comforting fire, full of macaroni, good memories, and a good dose of homesickness.

This excerpt is from “A Friendship Fire” in the book,  The Old House, by Curt Iles.   Learn more at http://www.creekbank.net

I’m 53 and still get that familiar surge of homesickness when I’ve been away from Dry Creek too long.  I’ve felt the feeling while walking in the African bush or stuck in some big city for several days.

I still find myself often sighing,  “I wonder what the dogs are doing back home?”

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