Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The new rose.

Monty arrived in 1986 when my now grown-up son - William and Thomas' older brother - was ten years old, and his sister seven. Monty was an eight-week-old Brittany spaniel pup; a breed known now simply as the Brittany, because the dog is more of a pointer or a setter than a spaniel.

Monty lasted thirteen years. The children edged into their teenage years, there was a divorce, the children finished school, I remarried, we moved house. Changes. Monty went along with all this and never complained and sat quietly in between walks - on my chair if I wasn't in it - and hardly ever even shed hair. Although he did eat my dinner once, and another time chewed up a brand new pair of ASICS Tiger Excalibur-GT running shoes, the very best running shoe in history, bar none.

Brittanies have boundless energy. Monty would run ten kilometres. I knew: I ran with him. In the old days. Except he zig-zagged, so he probably ran twenty.

Then, suddenly one day he was old and he faded, and succumbed to kidney disease in early summer 2000. You get attached to a dog that has accompanied you on long journeys, and not just foot ones. I was going to spread his ashes in one of his favourite places, but I couldn't decide whether that was Princes Park, Merri Creek or the beach. So I didn't. He sat on a shelf instead. In one of those jars the pet crematorium people give you, with flowery pictures and your dog's name in an ornate script. Except 'Monty' always looked wrong in an ornate script. He was a Times New Roman kind of dog. Bold.


On Sunday I planted a new rose in the garden, and you know the rest. This house is two doors up from the old one. We moved back into this street in 2005 after five years away. Now Monty is in the front garden of the house he used to trot past at the start of his walks; and next to the house where his friend the one-eyed chihuahua lived.


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