Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Max on the brain

Autumn reminds me of Max.

He is there in the way sun filters through the thinning canopy overhead, muted and golden, catching hints of rich browns and fine details in the trunks of poplars and firs, the pale cream on the underside of peeling birch bark.

He is in the crispness of the air; a memory of fresh, burnt autumn smells clinging to the thick mane about his neck and the warmth of his fur against my face.

I follow the narrow trail through our forest and he is there in the caramels and toffees of the leaves strewn about my feet. It is in this autumn forest that he could blend in, disappear and become larger than life at the same time.

Wood smoke drifts through the trees, a white ghostly presence shaping and reshaping itself, dispersing amongst the branches. It smells like the passage of time and I see Max curled up by the brilliant orange fire tumbling against the glass of the woodstove.

He is in the rustle of leaves, the rasp of dried marsh grasses, the breathy sweep of a raven’s wing. He is in the dazzling blue of a clear sky and the heavy gray of rolling clouds. He is in the silvery droplets of water gathered on golden leaves and the sparkling frosts of early morning.

Max is everywhere, always, but in this Max-coloured autumn landscape, I see his face in everything, his kind eyes returning my stare from behind trees and amidst piles of browning leaves. Sometimes I can even imagine the squeak and trundle of his wheels behind me; the determined plod of his wide front paws defining his own path through the woods.


  1. Love that last photo. I find myself looking for Max too, there between the trees. I hope that whenever I get to what comes next, I get to meet Max.

  2. That's a lovely post, Heather. We do miss our dogs, don't we, particularly the special ones. My Alsatian was a female, but looked very like your pictures of Max; she lost the use of her back legs, too. A rescue dog, she attended my wife closely when we got her, but was distant with me even though I fed her.

    Until one day when I found her with a 3-inch rusty nail driven into her front leg. It must have been on an old plant on the ground and she must have run on to it. A bit of wood was still stuck to it. I had to use some force to pull it out, kneeling there with her enormous fangs by my head. I didn't think of the danger and she didn't move. She licked my hand briefly and then went into the darkness of the hall to lie down.

    Ever afterwards she was my dog and her duty was to protect me! We called her Hayhay, because we couldn't think of a name for her and I used to shout "Hey" to attract her attention!

  3. Brenda, that would be wonderful.

    Dunkered, what a great story! I love stories like that. I can imagine the trepidation as you pulled out the nail while getting a close-up view of her teeth and then what a rewarding relationship you had with Hayhay. That's awesome.

    I love that you couldn't think of a name for her. We had the same problem with Murdoch, it took us a month to name him, and he was on the verge of answering to Good Boy and Puppy.

  4. And now he doesn't answer to any name unless he wants to, is that right? !!!