It is a quiet night, a snowy night, one of the first we've had in Denver all year. Duncan and I stepped outside for a walk down to the mailbox, the snow falling cold on our faces, crunching softly under our feet. While he sniffed the places he hasn't visited while we were in Idaho for a week, I closed my eyes and listened to the snow fall, a nearly imperceptible crystalline sound, like a whisper of bells through the trees. I am glad to be home and off the treacherous Wyoming highways we braved yesterday, but that sound, that faraway holiday tinkle of snow falling on branches and other snow, made me miss home more than I have in a long time. It would be nice to be there tonight, sitting near the people who love me, the firelight flickering on the faces, the smell of mom's candles filling the room.
The sound of the falling snow and the silence of the city around me have reminded me how much I miss them, how precious being there is. A line from a Cole Porter song has been running through my head almost constantly:
There's no love song finer
but how strange--the change
from major to minor--
ev'ry time we say goodbye.
We had a wonderful visit, much of it spent sitting at home in front of the fireplace talking with mom or walking up the hillside behind her home to the wide sage plain that overlooks the Portneuf Valley, Duncan ambling at my side, nose to the ground, hunting out bleached deer bones rather than squirrels and rabbits, his tail standing tall above him. He loves it there in a way that is magical to me, and seeing it through his eyes is like seeing it in a new way, or for the first time. I marvel at his wonder for the lichen which grows vividly green at the base of the junipers and the way he rolls in it, pushing his face into its softness. Or the way he wanders far ahead of me through the narrow winding tunnels of the tall sage until he is good and lost and then stops and listens for the sound of my boots on the soft, breakable shale, then sprints back in my direction, his eyebrows raised excitedly, a smile wide on his face, a look in his eyes as though there is much he discovered, all of it amazing and important, from the peeling bark of the junipers to the wide field of once-purple nettles now fallen over, pushed by the wind and laying flat like a blanket across the ground.
I love my dog more than many, many things, but I love him so much more in Idaho, where the world becomes wondrous, where my mother dotes on him and plays with him, where the wind stirs the red hair on the top of his head and Zeus, the neighbor dog, scampers alongside us, where his love of the world is bigger than the plains, longer than the valley where Pocatello nestles, and higher than the clouds that spill like great plumes of water down the mountainsides I call home.