It's astounding the number of things that can occur in a single moment, from the large events that shape the direction of our lives, to the minutiae of which I am so incredibly fond.
Our walk tonight started out as any other walk starts: I came home, changed out of my work clothes, fed Winnie some tuna from her fancy bowl atop our coffee table (she's been incredibly spoiled the last seven weeks), gave gargantuan Olive and precocious Pip their dinner of chicken kibble mixed with rabbit stew and blueberries (they eat better than Ken and I do, IsweartoGod!) and ventured down The Run with Duncan. It has been very hot the last few days (and tomorrow plans to be even hotter) so we were going slow and easy, enjoying the shade of the maples, birch and linden trees along the way, watching the succulent light from the low sun dance along the tips of the tall, wild grass, leaving golden footsteps on everything it touched, enjoying the rich scent of the freshly mowed grass (something that always brings me great pleasure, especially now that I don't have to mow myself and haven't done so for nearly seven years). It was shaping up to be a peaceful evening with Duncan plodding along beside me, head down, nose hunting out the peanuts Jeffrey scatters for the bluejays and squirrels. I was already envisioning making a spinach salad for dinner before settling down to read the latest John Irving novel which I have been enjoying very much.
And then all hell broke loose. In a single second I was ready to flee home, grab a bottle of Xanax (of which there are several) and spend the rest of the night trying to sort through the chain of events even as I convinced myself that such a thing was possible only in movies starring Steve Martin and produced by Nickelodeon.
A new dog has moved in next door to Jeffrey. She's a fat old Golden, nearly as wide as she is tall, with a white heart expanding across her face and down her chest. She's as loud as she is friendly and when she saw Duncan she announced it to everyone within earshot. Roo immediately forgot the foraging he'd been doing in the bushes outside Jeffrey's patio and launched (and I mean launched!) into the air toward her. He nearly cleared the shrubs, but not quite, which is what upset the rabbit who had been relaxing in the cool shade there. Duncan landed with a thud, which startled the rabbit, who darted out of the bushes right in front of me. I would have tripped over her if a wandering horsefly hadn't chose that moment to buzz by and lodge itself firmly between my eye and my glasses. I squeaked (which, admittedly, was not the most masculine of reactions) and reached for my face to free the bug which in its impatience had decided to bash itself between the softness of my fluttering and startled eyeball and the lens of my glasses (which is what I've observed countless flies do when confronted with an invisible barrier). The rabbit hurried toward the long grass on the other side of the fence and leapt right over the very long and very dark garter snake which, I presume, had also been enjoying the cool of the shade and the softness of the freshly mowed grass. It startled and slithered toward the shrubs where I was hobbling back and forth, my hands and glasses caught under the visor of my ball cap, the horsefly practically roaring at me in protest, while my feet danced back and forth, eventually coming down on the thickness of the snake, which coiled up around my ankle, its slimy skin all the warning I needed to determine that my situation had gone from bad to worse, which, of course, changed my less-than-masculine squeak into a full-throated and über-feminine scream which I'm not even sure the most-feminine of women would admit to being capable of. Duncan, who never barks at other dogs, decided to test his voice out on Ginger, who was barking back while her two-legged companions scurried to the patio door to see what all the commotion was about. I was still dancing, clutching my face to free the fly, bringing my knees and feet up high like a Cossack having a seizure in an attempt to avoid the snake, which had vanished as quickly as it appeared. After freeing the cap from my head and knocking my glasses to the newly trimmed grass, the fly finally dislodged itself and vanished into the melting sunlight. And while Duncan ceased his barking Ginger did not, which resulted in a stern scolding from her people, who could only stare at me as I flailed around manically.
"Are you okay?" the man asked, his wide-eyed wife standing behind him, clutching his shoulders.
I froze where I stood, looking not for my glasses but for the snake. "Yeah," I replied, out of breath. "I'm good. I'm Curt. You're new. Welcome to the neighborhood."
(Now tell me that wasn't worth the wait!)
(Now tell me that wasn't worth the wait!)