Last night was not a restful night. While Duncan snored loudly from his bed on the floor and the cats angled for the best spot on my pillow, I struggled to get even the briefest amount of sleep. But even after silence descended––except for the low bubbling ring of the wind chimes from outside my window––I laid on my back staring at the ceiling or at the obscure shadowy figure of the Picasso print that hangs on my wall. It wasn't until nearly 5:45, a mere fifteen minutes before the alarm sounded, that I dozed off, still slightly aware of the soft shape of Olive curled up on the pillow above my head.
Somehow or another my feet found the floor and I pulled myself into the shower while the rest of the family slept, oblivious to my weariness. I stood under the water a long time, my face turned directly into the hot spray, running with a loud rush down into the curling crevices of my ears. Later, the baby-scream of the tea kettle summoned everyone to breakfast and while they ate I sipped from my mug and dozed at the counter, exhausted and wanting nothing more than to call in to work and sleep on the couch.
But Duncan needed his morning walk, so we slipped down the stairs, around the side of the building and onto the dewy grass of The Run, which we have avoided since the monster dogs, who snarl and froth from their patio, moved in late last Spring. Duncan ran freely while I thought of all the miles we'd logged back there, walking from home to The Glen and home again under the heavy boughs, over the packed snow and ice. The squirrels are Dunc's primary object of interest, but this morning he was enraptured by the birds, from the big squawking crows to the tiny gray and brown things which look like stones but flutter like a storm of dust motes before an open window. He chased after them, reaching as far up the trunks of the Aspens as he could, grinning and whining while they looked down disapprovingly from above.
My eyes were heavy and I wondered if I'd ever wake up when Roo suddenly turned and darted into one of the low shrubs which grows in front of someone's patio just feet away from where I stood. He dove head first into the thick greenery, yapped as a cyclone of tiny birds erupted from hiding, fluttering around his head. He snapped again and then jerked back as he does when he investigates something that startles him by its movement. He turned to look at me and as I bent to pat him on the head, he opened his mouth and released the small bird he'd somehow held on his tongue. The thing screeched and flapped up into my face, spun in the air shaking loose the dog slobber that coated its wings and breast feathers and flittered away, vanishing into the high branches of the trees.
Duncan smiled widely, almost wickedly, and jumped up, his paws resting against my belt. I was wide awake, perhaps more so than on any morning in recent memory, but not nearly as awake as that bird, which cursed at us long after we had moved away.