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One Woman's Opinion

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La La Land

Urbanna, Va.— Those who don’t own dogs probably don’t understand how much dog owners love them or how they worm their furry ways into our hearts. And the best part about them is dogs don’t come as Democrats or Republicans.

It is difficult to leave them for a vacation, however. Our dogs demand only one thing—they must be pleased.

In the depths of winter I long to go to La La Land. I have to take a firm stand if I am to make my escape.

La La Land is what the late Dr. Brockett Muir called Florida. He had no use for the place and thought  life in the semi-tropics killed brain cells. He particularly thought writers should stay away from La La Land. “Ernest Hemingway shot himself because he spent too much time in Florida,” Brockett told me every year  in stern warning as I headed  off to the sunny clime. I haven’t shot myself yet.

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
The day I packed suitcases the dogs  were on my bed pretending  to sleep, but with one eye trained on me. “Lady” and her pup “Lord” would have been better named “Cyclops and Son.”

I sauntered over to the closet trying to look innocent of any suspicious behavior, selected a suitcase and began filling it with La La Land necessities: suntan lotion, sandals, pair of sunglasses, skimpy bathing suit.

That did it. The pair of sphinx was immediately wide awake. “Off to La La Land again, my sweet?” Lord asked.

“Yes, she’s going off to La La Land again,” Lady sniffed, “and leaving us at the kennel!” The dogs stared at me as if I were no better than a common horse thief, a traitor to the nation,  a baby snatcher, or a lover of cats.  

Lady sighed deeply and went belly up on my bed with the air of the Queen of England. It always amazes me how dogs can so quickly assume royal airs. As owners assume the role of  servants.

“You dogs are spoiled rotten,” I said. One must be forceful  when dealing with dogs. I have spent my life being ruled by them. But no more! Hurrah! It was off to La La Land for me!

In the old days I used to drive to La La Land over a grueling two-day stint with a stopover in Georgia. But a blood clot stopped the long drives. I now fly in and out of Florida from Richmond to Ft. Myers via Atlanta, and rent a car. This is not necessarily an easier travel experience, but it does mean  only one exhaustive day rather than two.

After landing at Ft. Myers last month, we drove south on 75 toward Naples with a stop for dinner and the grocery store for supplies. In Florida the food is fresh—orange juice, fruits, vegetables—all grown year around locally in Plant City. We rolled into our condo about 10 p.m. tired and ready for sleep. Ah, La La Land, far away from the Royals was my last thought.

I thought of them again the next evening at my favorite restaurant, the “Boathouse,” while sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio and overlooking Naples Bay. The aquamarine water sparkled in the sunlight. The “Sweet Liberty” and “Double Sunshine” passed by on their way to the Gulf for their sunset cruises, followed closely by the “Naples Princess,” which was filled with dining passengers. A scattering of Optis raced in a small regatta bobbing in their wake. Pelicans soared. Alleluia! No dogs.

Later a full moon rose off the black river and I stood on the lanai and looked out at the new Venetian styled condos that had been built in the last year and yachts moored across the canal. Someone had even strung white lights up and down the trunks of coconut palms, and the lights winked at me  in the shimmering water.

La La Land had not changed in my year’s absence and everywhere was beauty. It was the anti-depressant I needed every winter, the little yellow pills, not swallowed but dispensed in millions of tiny rays of sunshine that warmed both body and brain.

“Do you miss the dogs yet?” I asked Chip before falling off to sleep.

“Nope,” he answered, perhaps a bit too quickly. I thought of their bright brown eyes always ready for fun.

It was somewhat comforting to know that  I had survived life, at least one day, without the dogs.

(Continued next week) ©2009

posted 03.05.2009

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