Friday, September 4, 2015

Eleven

Today was Duncan's 11th birthday and once again we celebrated in the best possible way by paying a visit to our good friends at Hero's Pets. Trevor and I woke up early, took him on a long walk down past the pond and along the trail that winds through the prairie dog town Roo has come to love so much. Then, after a nice breakfast and a quiet morning we headed off to Hero's where his new best friend, Nicole, gave him usual birthday greeting by literally showering him with treats. Tess gave him a nice raw meat patty, and Trev and I helped Dunc pick out his newest pal, a fuzzy pink pig, which--in following with the tradition of naming them all with the letter B--we have dubbed Bacon. Dunc certainly loves his Bacon!

video

It was a perfect day in every way.

Happy 11th, Roo! Papa loves you more than you'll ever know. What a good boy and best friend! I love you, my brother.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Grass

It was one of those perfect summer days I've written about so many times before. The sky was bright and blue and all the clouds were relegated to standing guard on the periphery, rising above the mountains or far out over the eastern plains but well away from any place Duncan and I might venture on our afternoon walk. There was a breeze, warm, but pleasant on my arms and the back of my neck, carrying with it the last of the perfume from the Russian Olives. But even better, down by the small misplaced pond, shrouded in tall pussy willows and awkward, gangly cattails, a sandhill crane was wading through the murky shallows, its spindly legs thrusting in and out of the water as it's long beak darted in, poking for minnows and frogs among the moss and mud. The cottonwoods, standing their regal watch, have started doing that thing they do best: releasing clouds and clouds of downy snow that drift lazily in the golden afternoon among the gnats and other tiny flying things. It is my favorite time of year, before the sun has bleached the depth of color from the world and turned the earth to bone. So I stood a long moment on the path while Duncan sniffed the tall grass beside me, his head vanishing for minutes at a time among the thick, damp blades. He was in search of something, but then so was I.



On afternoons like this I think of Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, and all the words she has arranged that so perfectly capture the feelings these moments arouse in me. And that is what poetry is or should be--a snapshot of a moment, a thought, a feeling, something that can be expressed in no other worldly way outside of the experience.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?

And at that moment, when the trees were raining their cotton down so perfectly, the insects dancing around and among it, when the bird chorus fell into perfect syncopation, when the crane spread its wings and took to the air--perilously low at first, its breast cutting the tiniest of ripples along the surface of the pond before it gained its strength and launched heavenward over the willows--when Mary Oliver's words were lining up on my lips and tongue, Duncan lifted his head--his beautiful, red head, outlined in the loveliest of amber summer light--trotted out of the grass toward me, and dropped a thick, green, and very dead snake on my foot, the smile wide and glorious on his face.

Moments are precious to each of us, in their unique way. Right? That's what I tried to tell myself as I sucked all the air out of the known world into my lungs, did one of those allover body trembles, and danced away as quickly as I could.




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Friday, June 26, 2015

6/26

This is how it happened. This is how I found out.

It was a bright morning, cool considering the heat that has been setting in early the last week or so. We'd had a day of terrific storms, tornadoes touching down, rivers running through the streets, flooding no one saw coming, so this morning was a welcome relief, a perfect morning for strolling lazily around our neighborhood.

I rarely answer the phone when I'm walking Duncan. All too often I pass other walkers, oblivious to their dogs while they talk to someone, ignoring the sounds of the birds, the rich green scents of the tall grass, the Russian Olives, the moist earth, wafting around them. I pity them and wish they could see the world as Dunc and I do on our numerous walks every day. But this morning, when the phone rang it was my father and as he rarely calls, especially in the morning, I thought I should take it.

"Good morning," I said while Duncan stopped and sniffed a low shrub.

"Curt, it's yer dad!" he called in his traditional greeting.

"What's up?" I asked as Duncan started off down the sidewalk.

"The Supreme Court ruled just now," he said.

I froze. Dunc's leash went taut and he snuck an irritated look over his shoulder at me.

"What is it?" My heart began to race. Yesterday we'd won the Affordable Care Act, to my great relief; surely The Universe wouldn't give us another victory so soon. "What did they say?"

There was a long pause. A very long pause. My father cleared his voice and then I heard the soft, muffled sounds of his tears.

"You won," he whispered and then sobbed.

I was stunned. The blue sky turned bluer, the grass greener, and all the street noise around me seemed to fade away, leaving only the sounds of my father crying and Duncan sniffing the grass at my feet.

"We won?" I asked, not daring to believe it.

"Yes..." he whispered.

I laughed, loud and unconstrained. "Why are you crying?" I asked, feeling my own tears rising up.

"Because I've never been so happy for you," he said.

And then I cried, too. Cried and cried and laughed and laughed all at once. I couldn't help myself. And so my father and I cried together, hundreds of miles apart but suddenly very close.

And when we hung up, Dunc was sitting there waiting for me, his tail brushing back and forth in the grass, his tongue lolling out one side of his mouth.

I knelt down before him, wrapped my arms around him and wept into his shoulder while he leaned into me, gave my ear a quick, reassuring lick, and let me have my moment.

It was perfect. I left my home having lived my entire life in one world but returned later, led by my handsome, wonderful red dog, to an entirely new world where my opportunities had changed and my dreams were unlimited.

We won. Today we all won.