The parking lots have been crumbling since last November. After the first big batch of snow and ice melted, the cement, too, tried to retreat, which left big, gaping holes and cracks (although in some instances, "crevasses" would be a more fitting word) which have required careful driving and even more careful walking at night. Finally management has decided to do something about it, the same week all the buildings are getting a fresh coat of paint, and so the parking lots have been filled to capacity with trucks and workers carrying buckets and power-washers and big rake things and mountains of cement piled in bags all over the place. There is so much work going on that they brought in an enormous garbage tanker and plopped it right down on the spot where Duncan and I watched our baby bunnies nestle in the grass all Spring. The bunnies, displaced by the noise and parade of workers, have moved on to quieter spots, but Dunc still insists on looking for them three times a day.
Walking to the mailbox this afternoon we stepped around a nice big square of wet cement. I tapped my toe on it and saw that, although still slightly moist, it had thickened up quite nicely and would support our weight without making too much of a mess. Thinking it a would be lovely to leave our prints in it as a permanent reminder that we'd walked and loved these places, we stepped out onto it and absolutely nothing happened. The cement stayed firm and in place and neither of us made the slightest imprint upon it.
Further down the walk, right in front of the mail-house, we stopped in front of a second big patch of fresh cement, and not thinking, I let Duncan step out into it, where he immediately sank almost up to his chest. The cement made a nice, moist belching sort of noise and neither of us moved for a second. Duncan looked around, not quite sure what to think of the situation and I watched him sink a few more inches. Painters on ladders and scaffolding at a nearby building burst into laughter as I leaned over and scooped Duncan up in my arms. As his body rose up and his legs pulled out, dripping with what looked like very thick, gray cake batter, the cement folded back into place and farted. I set Dunc down and we trotted home, although we had to leave the parking lot and sidewalks and scurry around the back of several out-of-the-way buildings to avoid the laborers who'd worked so hard making it a nice, flat surface. Our route would not have been hard to follow, though, as heavy clumps of cement dripped off him and settled in the grass, like Hansel and Gretel dropping pebbles behind them on their way through the woods. Duncan could've cared less and kept trying to stop and sniff clumps of grass or the trunks of the still-flowering trees. I pulled him along and lifted him into my arms when we reached home, where I carried him through the living room and down the hallway to the bathroom, where I plopped him down in the tub and hit the water, which turned black as it trickled down his legs and coated the floor of the tub with fine particles of rock. Realizing I'd forgotten to grab towels, I told him to stay and went down the hall for his bath sheets only to return twenty seconds later to discover he'd left the tub and had galloped all over the bathroom, up the walls, across the shower curtain, across every conceivable inch of linoleum, over the toilet and up the back of the door. Thick, black paw prints covered every possible surface. So in addition to cleaning the dog, I've spent much of the afternoon scrubbing the entire bathroom. It's been a wonderful way to spend a July afternoon.
After Dunc was clean I grabbed my camera and headed back down to the mail-house for a picture of the ruined slab. Unfortunately I was too late; the workers had returned and had already smoothed it flat, dumbfounded expressions on their faces. I admitted it had been my dog, or rather, my dog's stupid companion, who had wrecked havoc on their hard labor. They listened and nodded and finally asked, "¿Qué?"
I'm afraid if they'd understood they'd demand menudo on tonight's menu.