Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Pepper at the Beach


On a cool autumn day at the beach, Pepper and I  walked alongside huge grey boulders possibly left by giants. Pep was intrigued. Enchanted even. She sensed that something lay beyond them – just out of view.

“No, Pepper,” I told her. “You can’t climb over the boulders. They are too big, and you are too small.”

She disagreed.



Three times –  she tried. And failed.

I smoked a cigarette and waited.

“I can’t climb over the boulders,” Pep concluded.

“Of course you can’t,” I said, and we kept walking.

In time we came to a path that cut through the boulders. It was steep and ill-kept. But it was a path.

“Here, here!” Pep exclaimed. “I can get to the other side!”

“Yes, you could,” I agreed. “But for now, let’s keep walking.”

“Only because you insist, and I am on the leash,” Pep complained.

We came to another path, not as steep, but strewn with debris.

“Here, here!” Pep exclaimed. “I can get to the other side!”

“Yes, you could,” I agreed. “But for now, let’s keep walking.”

“Only because you insist, and I am on the leash,” Pep complained.

We came to a bramble patch

And a field of yellow wildflowers.

We came to a barren land

And a place where the sea met the sky.

A bird left a feather as a gift,

A mighty dragon left a toothpick,

And the king of the sea lay a soft carpet of green and purple at our feet.

Finally we went home on the well-worn path through the woods.

The cottage was hidden among old oaks, their branches dripping with Spanish moss. I brewed water for tea in the kettle and sat by the fire, Pepper at my feet. 

“Why didn’t we take one of the paths through the boulders, to see what was on the other side?” Pep asked. “I really wanted to,” she said, nuzzling her nose into my hand.

“We still had things to see on the path we were on,” I replied. 

(Didn’t we? And wasn’t it a very good path?)

*       *       *

*     *     *

I didn’t really smoke a cigarette. I just liked the way it sounded.


  1. Too good. The dragon toothpick takes the cake. Brilliance.

  2. Beautiful! And I’m laughing out loud! My comment was going to be: “You smoked a cigarette??” It did sound poetic, and the walk sounds like one Roscoe and I would’ve liked to have joined you on. But I’m glad you didn’t really smoke a cigarette!

  3. I think that Pepper has benefitted from growing up in a house with two lawyers. Her concessions (you’re insisting; I’m on a leash) reflect both logic and self-awareness. Five stars. 🙂

  4. Pep has been reading too much C.S. Lewis, Jen. “…because she has read of enchanted woods (or beaches…or boulders)…the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.” ‍♂️‍♀️‍♂️

  5. Thank you for considering that all paths have merit. A lesson at any age.

  6. Jennifer,
    This post works on many levels. I especially like the visual one. And, like Caroline, I am glad the cigarette was fiction.

  7. Jennifer ~
    I fully felt I was with you and Pepper as you explored the beach.
    Thank you for taking me there 🙂

  8. This was delightful. I miss that sweet Pepper. Beautiful post for an equally beautiful day! Thank you.

  9. …so happy you didn’t really smoke a cigarette:)
    PS thanks for helping me remember to stop and notice the gifts in my life.

  10. Jennifer Years ago when characters in books and especially writers smoked like chimneys that remark about the cigarette would hardly have been noticed. Now it is such a shocker that anything after it fades…As your readers attest! Lynn

  11. I absolutely love your Pepper posts. I have had black labs all my life but now have rescues that are never black labs. I love these rescues like no othe;and so I get my black lab fix thru Pepper…. is it a beach that Pepper cannot be off leash? or would he just insist on swimming? In any case Pepper would go down the paths maybe but would of course follow you to the end….

  12. The cigarette! Yes, I couldn’t stop my mind from going back there all through the rest of the beautiful little tale. I thought about your experiences abroad and how it’s ok that other countries are more relaxed about smoking than we are, about how careless I was when I was seventeen lying by the pool with cigarettes and girlfriends, and about how glad I was that maybe Jennifer Puryear had an occasional vice… 🙂 Thank you for this story. It was a great treat.

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