Easter was a relatively low-key event ’round here. Thanks to my last-minute grocery store run, we had enough food to feed a small army. This isn’t my fault; given our plans to just have a quiet dinner of the four of us, and given that one of us doesn’t eat meat, my intention was to buy a few ham steaks and we’d just cook them out on the grill. But it turns out that the day before Easter, giant hunks of pig are actually cheaper than smaller, more manageable hunks of pig. Naturally, I opted for a small ham because it was more food for less money (and that’s my particular mental illness, that I am IN MY MIND always just one grocery selection away from not being able to feed my family).
And as long as we were having a bona fide ham, well, then we needed stuff to go with it to make it all official, of course. So somehow we ended up with a giant meal. Because if there’s ham, there must also be a mountain of mashed potatoes! And veggies! And a whole pineapple, which we totally forgot about and never even cut up. Whoops. We did not, however, forget about the pie. Mmmmmm… pie.
Anyway. What? Oh, right. Low-key Easter.
Big meal fixings? Check. Easter baskets stashed in the oven for the children to find in the morning? Check. Colorful language as I attempted to peel a bazillion eggs and devil them? Check and check. A lazy afternoon to eat ourselves silly, then hang out on the porch and play board games? Check!
Licorice finds holiday meals confusing. Actually, so do the children. My philosophy is that if I’m going to make a giant meal that has a billion calories and a thousand associated dishes, I’m going to call it The Big Meal Of The Day and serve it mid-afternoon as a sort of afternoon brunch. Lupper. Linner? Whatever. You have the giant meal later than lunch but earlier than dinner, so as to maximize the amount of child whining that comes before and so that you can just fling leftovers at anyone who’s hungry around dinnertime. Easy.
The children fussed a bit about having to wait to eat—which was easily solved by stuffing deviled eggs into their gobholes—and then we sat down around 2:15 or so. Licorice paced nervously. Because we were eating at a funny time! And it smelled like DELICIOUSHAMNOMS! And we were in the dining room instead of the kitchen! It was just all very confusing to her.
[Sidebar: Here we must pause to note that this was my first fully-assimilated Easter. Five years into southern living, and I succumbed. Y'all (see what I did there?), I cooked the ham in Coca-Cola. And it was amazing. I assume it's amazing because it's the liquid equivalent of packing the 4-pound ham into 8 pounds of sugar, but perhaps the various chemicals and acids in the soda play a part in turning the ham into melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Even Chickadee said it smelled amazing, and she hasn't eaten meat in years.]
So we ate. And after we ate, we each offered Licorice small ham scraps, and she just about bit my finger off, but I’m sure she didn’t mean to. It’s just that the ham was REALLY good.
Otto and I performed a nominal clean-up of the (completely destroyed) kitchen, and then we moved out to the screen porch to commence with Family Games.
Licorice, of course, trotted right out her little doggy door and planted herself at the top of the deck stairs, so as to fully survey her domain.
We first played Set, which the Easter Bunny had thoughtfully placed in one of the baskets, and that was entertaining because Otto and I are old and decrepit and would yell “SET!” and go to pick up the cards and then realize that it wasn’t really a set after all. This would make the children laugh as we had to turn in cards due to our, um, premature en-set-ulation, and what is more entertaining than watching your parents lose at a game? Not much.
After a while we decided to switch games, and Monkey looked out over the rest of the deck and the yard and said, “Where’s Licorice?”
Otto and I kind of shrugged and said she was probably out in the run, but Monkey walked out and called her and she didn’t come. So I walked out and called her, and she didn’t come.
“I think I saw her chasing a squirrel in the run and then she never came back out,” said Monkey. “I wonder if she found a way to get out?”
Chickadee burst into tears and buried her face in her knees. Otto and I exchanged a look.
First we checked every inch of the area inside the fenced in area, then we started walking around the yard and the woods and widening out our circle. We called, we shook the treat jar, we adults quietly remarked to one another that for a dog as spoiled as this one, she sure does seem to want to get away from us pretty badly.
I felt oddly calm. Although the first time she got out nearly caused me a coronary, the fact that she came back of her own volition was a reassuring memory. I figured she was roaming around and would come back when she was ready.
“But what if she gets hit by a car?” Chickie sniffled.
“This is a good day to be a rotten escaping dog,” I told her. “It’s Easter Sunday. I haven’t seen a car the whole time we’ve been out here. People are at home, there’s hardly any traffic. She’ll be fine.”
Monkey grabbed some treats and headed up the road to look. I headed down to the pond. Otto continued circling the house. We all came back, verified that no one had seen her, and stood in the driveway trying to figure out what to do next.
“I’m going to go drive around some,” Otto said. “Tell Chickadee to stay by the phone.” I did, and he left, and I went back into the woods, calling and shaking the treat container.
By the time I came back, Otto was still gone, the kids were half-heartedly playing a game, and I was beginning to wonder if, indeed, it was all going to end badly. But then the phone rang, and it was Otto—he’d spotted Licorice running through a yard a couple of blocks away, and when he called her she’d come running, happy to see him, leaves tangled in her ears, and totally proud of herself.
Back at home, Monkey scolded Licorice for all of about 30 seconds before giving in to petting her and hugging her and telling her how much he’d missed her. Chickadee wiped her tears and told Licorice she was VERY VERY ROTTEN but kissed her, anyway. Otto walked the fence periphery and located the tiny gap where he suspected she’d made her escape, and laid down some bricks along the opening before we let the dog back into the yard.
Once released, Licorice ran STRAIGHT to the escape point, sniffed and pawed at the (unmoving) bricks, and glared at Otto. He is always RUINING HER FUN.
Some people like to celebrate Easter by rolling a rock away from a cave opening and declaring “HE IS RISEN!”, but I like to think that a rotten little dog escaping from the yard is practically the same thing. I feel certain that if the disciples had had chicken jerky bites on hand they totally would’ve walked around, waving it in the air, calling Jesus’ name, trying to lure him back.
Granted, it’s been a while since I reviewed the full story in the Bible, but it could’ve happened that way.