a year of stories - 29 of 52 / by Carey Pace


*This post is part of a collaborative project - a year of stories shared by a group of 15 photographers every Tuesday in 2016.  Please visit Allison Gipson after you read this post to continue the circle.*

We have this favorite spot on Planet Earth called Topsail Island that is located off the southern coast of North Carolina.  In particular, it is the area at the very southern tip of the Island that holds our heart captive.  For nature lovers like us, it is a treasure trove of oceanic and coastal terrain with few other folks around.  We adore it because of the expanse of shore on both the ocean and sound sides of the island.  Each side holds wonders if one only but looks for them.  

We've stayed in this spot in 2012, twice in 2014, and then again the summer of 2016.

It was the first Saturday in June and we were staging our packing in the garage.  I was trying to be less of a control freak Anxiety Girl and plan less this year.  I didn't make out a meal plan. I didn't pre buy groceries.  I was choosing not to pack all of the 'what if?' items that normally inundate our luggage.  I did, however, let the kids pick out some special gum for the trip.  

I don't chew gum, myself.  I've never liked it.  Something about chewing repeatedly on the same wad of goo totally grosses me out.  But the boys in my family like it just fine and I knew they'd like to have something new in the van for the ride.  The Boy made his special selection, and I set it in the garage along with some other things that needed to go on the trip. 

That evening I had just finished making dinner (Confucius Chicken Salad, since you asked) when Shawn walked in and mentioned that The Boy had just pulled the package of gum out of one of the dogs' mouths.  

A few months prior we had to take the white dog to the vet for an obstruction when he ate most of a whole coconut, shell and all.  The Boy had hacked it to bits with a machete for fun and left it in the front yard.  We discovered that Mr. Hugo has a penchant for coconut.  Hugo recovered fine, but I recalled one of the first things the vet had said to me that visit. "At least it wasn't a package of gum with xylitol."  

"Does that gum have xylitol in it?" I asked Shawn.  "Why? Does it matter?" he volleyed back.  "Yeah. It does."  

Although the gum my guys normally chew doesn't contain xylitol, the gum we'd bought special for the trip that the dogs had found in the garage did.  Figures.  Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs.  I wouldn't have known if Hugo hadn't eaten the coconut. Both of the dogs had eaten the gum, but we didn't know how much.  Equal amounts?  All of it by one of them?  We called the emergency vet located about 50 minutes away and they told us they needed to see the puppies immediately. Shawn threw them in the van with The Boy, and I stayed home with The Lady. 

Long story short, the vet ended up keeping them about 24 hours.  Hugo ended up needing glucose to keep him out of a hypoglycemic crash, but Bear is apparently indestructible.  $1300 later, I was able to bring them home. 

Shawn took the kids on to the beach on schedule Sunday morning, but I stayed behind to care for the dogs.  Hugo had some issues with diarrhea and wouldn't eat, so it wasn't until midday Tuesday that I could finally leave for the beach myself and leave the dogs to our house sitter.  The whole incident of carelessness where I'd tossed the gum in the staging stack had robbed me of nearly three days at the ocean, and nearly took our puppies lives. 

Here were the images I took Tuesday evening shortly after I arrived at the beach house and we trekked to my favorite place on the Earth. 


*This post is part of a collaborative project - a year of stories shared by a group of 15 photographers every Tuesday in 2016.  Please visit Allison Gipson after you read this post to continue the circle.*