Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Frost Catchers and Navigating Through Art

I am continually amazed at how our dogs have adapted to life with an artist in the house. My husband, a painter and sculptor, is always collecting little bits of this and that, found objects which sometimes end up sitting on the bench next to the door before they are deployed in a variety of sculptural compositions. The dogs may sniff, but they don't touch them, no matter how interesting they are. We have paintings, pottery, art books and delicate sculptures all within easy dog reach and none are ever disturbed. We don't even see signs of nose prints.

When Baxter was a puppy, my husband used to paint on large canvasses on our back patio. Baxter would place himself between the paint and the canvas, without touching either, and lay down for a nap. Needless to say, for much of his puppyhood he had little specks of paint in his hair. It gave him a rather avant-garde appeal.

In the house, where we have always had a lot of art around, we watched puppy Baxter like a hawk. Each time he approached an art piece, we let him sniff but never touch. He learned fast, and, apparently, he has taught this reverence for objects d'art to Kirby. Other than a couple of teething puppy bites on the blinds by the sliding door, Kirby hasn't chewed up any household items, artistic or otherwise.

This holds true for objects in the yard as well. Lately my husband has been taking his invention of the "frost catcher" to new levels... He's watching the weather, noting the temperature and humidity and, on the most promising nights, placing his works of environmental art in the yard, in the garden, on the windshield, any place that might catch the remarkably elusive crystals. His latest experiment involves creating frost heaves in a bottle and it has moved from the garden to our freezer. Finding bottles of dirt in the freezer really didn't surprise or alarm me as much as it probably should have...I guess I've been married to an artist for too long to be surprised by such things.

In any case, the dogs are doing a pretty good job of staying away from the frost catchers. Unfortunately, Baxter learned this the hard way. While the dogs have become used to navigating around sculptures on our back patio, last winter the frost catchers began showing up in the lawn (which was, as far as Baxter was concerned, dog territory). The first of these frost catchers was attached to a shovel handle and placed in the middle of the back yard. Not anticipating such an anomaly, Baxter discovered the standing shovel handle by collision while taking a night time spin through the yard. (Dogs may have good night vision, but that doesn't necessarily mean they watch where they're going...)

The other night, when the mysterious shovel-handle frost catcher made its first appearance in our new yard, Baxter eyed it with suspicion and gave it a wide berth.

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