Henry was excited. There were no two ways about it. The garlic is almost completely dry, and it is time to braid the garlic. That only means one thing; a family get together! Henry was lying on the porch, head poking between the railing, with his eyes fixed on the driveway. "Will they never arrive?" he anxiously thought. Dad and Mom are busy setting up tables, getting twine, shears, lavender, and of course garlic for the impending braiding party. Henry had chosen two varieties to braid; the first was Chesnok Red, for its striking purple streaked wrappers, and German Extra Hardy for both its beautiful porcelain white skin and mammoth size. They were going to be things of beauty, of this Henry was sure. A noise from down the road, and movement through the trees snapped Henry to attention. Was there someone coming up the drive? Yes there was. They were here! Henry, with all the agility of a bull in a china shop, leapt to his feet, rapped his head on the porch railing, and bolted to the parking car. Auntie Melissa, Uncle Wade, and Granny spilled from the opening doors, smiles beaming on each and every one. Henry, reaching his destination, came to a screeching halt in front of Granny, and presented his sore head for a proper petting. As he was greedily soaking up Granny's attention, he could hear Stella barking from within the confines of the farmhouse. Henry paid little attention to this disturbance; he knew she would be too chicken to come outside until she knew who was in the yard. All of the petting, rubbing of ears, and welcoming hugs would be his for a precious few more moments. He was so happy! He knew everyone was in for a long day of work today, it would pass quickly with everyone pitching in. Henry continued his snaggletooth way of greeting everyone, his furry butt wiggling uncontrollably, and his tongue cheerfully licking anyone foolish enough to get close to his crooked grin. At the moment he was intent on making sure Auntie was duly washed snaggle style, his tongue bathing was interrupted by Granny opening the back hatch of the car. A squirmy, hairy ball of pent up energy spewed from the opening, hit the ground gracelessly, four legs splayed in all directions. It was an entrance/landing that only a puppy could pull off without incident. This was a pleasant surprise, and Henry greeted his cousin Shika II the only way he knew how. He quickly and happily went over sniffed her face, then proceeded to sniff her butt. "Yup, that's her" he thought excitedly. He just loved this puppy. She liked to play almost as much as he did, unlike his neurotic little sister. This was going to be so much fun! At about that moment Stella, who was looking out the screen door and taking in all of the proceedings, while simultaneously barking as only she could, felt the door open from behind her. She stopped barking for a split second, jumped nearly out of her skin, and looked over her shoulder. It was her sister Susie! She was alive! No one had seen hide nor hair of her since the night before. She must have heard the commotion and decided to roll out of bed. Maybe, just maybe Henry might get some work out of her today after all. Susie passed through the screen door, and Stella heard the telltale squealing of the spring as it was pulling the door shut. She realized she had a choice to make; stay inside, bark, and be safe and comfy in her bed; or go out, bark, and get some loving from her family. It really wasn't a choice for most dogs, but she wasn't most dogs. "I do love to bark, and can do that plus get some attention" she thought. She gulped, took a breath, started to bark as she lowered her head and went by Susie like she was standing still. In a flash she was at the car. She came to a screeching, though graceful halt, and of course continued to bark. Everyone laughed, and loved the little nervous girl until she calmed down to a manageable wriggling happy dog, which of course she was. Stella, noticing her cousin eyeing her, turned to greet her as Henry had, ending with the obligatory sniffing of Shika II's exhaust pipe. Mom, Dad, and Susie soon made their way to the car and hugs and kisses were bestowed upon all. Henry had proceeded to sit facing everyone, smiling his cooked snaggletooth grin, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. "This is what it is all about" he thought. The people soon made their way to the side of the covered porch to engage in much needed catching up on everyone's lives, and of course attending to the business of garlic braiding. Their laughter was calming to Henry, Stella, and Shika II, who found themselves alone in the yard. The breeze was light, the air cool, and the sky a blue only a perfect day in Maine could produce. The dogs played for awhile, then being thirsty took their cousin to their "watering hole", which was in fact a blue kiddie wading pool that Mom had just put fresh, cold, clear water from their pristine well. After much slurping, burping, wading, rolling, and splashing it was time. As Henry was busy rolling his wet contented body in something odious, Stella decided it was time to show Shika II around the property. With a sidelong look at Shika II, she said "This way cuz. You see the lower end of this field? Behind the tall hemp Dad has planted as a cover crop is a fresh crop of sweet, stinky, and juicy tic tacs, left by our friends the deer. They left it last night, as they snacked on our juicy hemp. Last dog to arrive will get the least fresh treats." With that Stella bounded off, with Henry and Shika II in hot pursuit. "I've never had tic tacs" she said, to which Henry replied "Oh you are in for a tasty treat Cuz. They slide down smooth, and come out of your exhaust hot. We better hurry though. Sis wasn't kidding, it's every dog for themselves when it comes to tic tacs!" Shika II, looked up at her older cousin, nodded and shifted to a higher gear. Already she felt the drool starting to drip out of her mouth. "Country life is the best" she thought contentedly.
Yes Shika II, country life is the best. We had a wonderful time with you and the rest of the family, both in harvesting, and braiding. The garlic braided bouquets turned out even better than we hoped, and we will miss them as they will soon be leaving to grace other homes this harvest season. Summer, like life, passes all too quickly it seems. Please, please, please don't waste a moment of the time given to you. Here at Snaggletooth Farm, we hope that all of you enjoy, and embrace all life has to offer. Happy harvest season!