Home Sweet Home ...

There is no place like home, it is often said.  It sometimes takes being away, to realize just how sweet home is, however.  Gracious hosts, exotic new places, untold new sights sounds and smells, can be wonderful.  Yet be it ever so humble, it is ever so comforting, to once again be enveloped in the familiarity of that place one calls home.  But there I go again starting at someplace other than the beginning, and neglecting to mention that I am talking for Cookie, as well as myself.

On my latest visa extension in Mae Sai it was made clear that I was in need of a new passport.  Fortunately that inevitability only presents every ten years and is thus something one doesn’t waste precious time worrying about.  One doesn’t actually worry about driving a couple of hundred kilometers to Chiang Mai, either.  The when and how and where of it does become a bit of a worry, if one wants it to be fun and not a burden.

Where to stay?  What to do about the house and Cookie?  To make a short story shorter, we stayed with a friend.  We arrived a day and a half before her but her parents were extremely gracious and Cookie received an equally warm welcome from one and all, especially Honey the host golden retriever.  With the weather warming up and much running about to do, we decided to expose Cookie to something new, as an alternative to being dragged around in the heat all day. 

A lovely Dutch lady presides over a kennel not far from our friend’s house and it seemed an ideal learning experience and worth a try.  So the first and last night Cookie was Honey’s guest and two days in the middle she stayed with another golden retriever at the kennel.  Having never been away from her, for the eight months she has lived with us, we were nervous parents, calling for regular updates.  Reportedly, our normally quiet little girl was quite vocal during her time away from us.  Her first night back with us, it was impossible to escape her presence or gaze.  We were watched like a hawk, for fear that we might get lost again, I presume.

For us, there was of course the obligatory shopping for the house in addition to renewing the passport.  Our friend has an uncanny knack for finding quaint little shops, arty little restaurants, coffee or tea houses.  Breakfast at the Dhara Dhevi, was more awe inspiring than quaint, and impressed us as much as any hotel or resort that we have ever been to.  Chiang Mai has a thriving art culture with many tight little sois with interesting little shops but we found ourselves along the river in the hours before sending our friend to the airport. 

An unassuming store front opened into an airy tea garden on the banks of the Ping River.  After tea, the girls went off for some last minute shopping, while Cookie and I basked in the beauty of the garden.  There was, just by chance, some unexpected eye-candy for me and additional attention for Cookie.  The place was perfect for that days fashion shoot and I was taken back to previous shoots that my wife did the makeup for.  One lovely luk-krueng girl from the entourage came over to play with Cookie, while the staff fawned over her, bring water and ice in a bowl.  They loved watching her submerge her face in pursuit of ice-cubes, looking ever so much like someone at a county fair, bobbing for apples.

Our friend safely on her way back to Bangkok, we had a pleasantly uneventful drive home.  The back of the truck filled to nearly overflowing, the backseat was folded up and Cookie slept most of the way home, on the well padded floor, with the temperature maintained just to her liking.  Can’t truly say who was more pleased to be home.  Each in our own way, we relished our return to what we love about this place we call home.  For me and my wife it was a once familiar and often experienced wave of emotion.  For Cookie, who knows.  Clearly, however, there was a calm joy that enveloped her as she lounged around the house last night.  Living in the moment as dogs do, today it is all about exploring her yard and fields, playing with her pack and swimming in her pond.

The Chiang Mai Consulate will not mail my passport so in a few weeks I will once again make the drive from here to there and back again.  In the end we didn’t feel good about subjecting Cookie to the trip.  As a one-off it could be seen as a learning experience but she is ever so much more happy in her little fiefdom and it would be cruel to take her away from what she loves.  We will just have to work harder at training the mother in law and our staff to deal with Cookie.  It is one thing to take her to play in nature, but quite another to take her to a city and its confined spaces.  She lives in a natural world with no fences or boundaries and that is the way it should be for her.  And in a perfect world, perhaps that is the way it should be for us as well.  It sure feels good to be home.