It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.
(P. D. James)
(P. D. James)
It was a glorious afternoon, breezeless and stationary but with cool, tolerable temperatures, too cold for a t-shirt but too warm for a jacket. The windows had been left open and the sun allowed to bless the cats with the warm squares it made on the carpet. The sleepless leaves, damp and nearly quiet in the morning but crisp and loud underfoot in the afternoon, stayed where they'd landed, stirred only by our passing. It was a day for walking and breathing, inhaling the dark, almost-musty fragrance of the earth and the cinnamon scent of tree bark. There were birds, too, settled in the lush stillness of the branches, singing softly, quietly, as though whispering through a church service. Even the squirrels were cautious and respectful in their steps, bounding along from one bald spot in the grass to another, afraid that any sound would bring back yesterday's cold and the turbulence we endured over the weekend.
But Duncan could care less. Duncan, who loves all things, especially the seasons, threw himself into the world with an open, generous spirit, unafraid of the consequences of the autumnal music he made. I lingered behind, watching him prance and play, his tail stirring up contrails of leaves behind him, his nose pushing paths through them. His love of the world, its mysteries and gifts, is a remarkable thing to witness. Even the sun seemed to pause in the sky to savor the sight of him. He turned a corner and vanished from my view so I hurried to catch up with him, the sudden silence of The Glen ahead unnerving. But there he was, resting on the hillside waiting for me, his head cocked, his eyes bright, everything about him asking me why I took my time, why I didn't gallop beside him through the bounties of the world, why I chose to take pictures and whistle softly instead of spin as madly as he.
So I laid down beside him, tucked my camera into my pocket and rolled down the hill, pulling the leaves around and behind me while he for once followed, his paws dancing in the air behind me as though pushing me forward.
His pleasure is all I need. And on afternoons such as this, my pleasure seems to his sole purpose.