Monday, July 23, 2012

Tea with sticks

A breeze, cool in a mid-summer kind of way, washes through the trees, fanning and flapping leaves, bending saplings this way and that, swirling around thicker trunks of bigger trees and blowing away the biting bugs.

I sit on the deck, shaded from the heat of a white sun beneath this glowing green canopy, individual leaves outlined in gold. Bear lies on the short-sheared scrub of greenery just off the deck that last year grew to four-foot plants with leaves the size of dinner plates and darning needles for thorns. She sniffs casually at the air, her silky ears falling back from her perfect Lab face. I sip tea and breathe the same air and wonder what she smells.

I have been gone for a while, visiting family and then away again for work, and I missed these quiet moments with Bear, of just being together in the same place and, for a short time at least, without any expectations.

But Murdoch is there too and he is hyper after days of not getting his regular run. He clunks across the deck dragging his line behind him, all business and ready to do something else, anything else, than just sit here. His wide brown eyes settle on mine with purpose, searching for a hint of excitement, imploring me to let him off his line so he can run away through the woods.

I give him a half smile and quietly put down my mug of tea, then push myself up from the chair and he leaps sideways off the deck, spins around and pounces on a stick he has left waiting in the cropped weeds.

He brings it to me and I throw it, watch him send up a spray of stones and then tear at the ground as he thunders after the stick, his body moving with fluid power. Wind streams through his hair and his line zips along behind him, metal against metal. He snatches up the stick from where it tumbled to a stop and spins around to return at the same speed.

I throw it again and as he takes off after it I hear a disgruntled grumble behind me. I turn to find Bear standing there, muscles tensed, ready to get in the game. She stomps her feet and stares at me and rushes forward. I find another stick by the deck and hold it out for her. She takes it carefully in her mouth at first and then clamps her teeth around it with a crunch and returns, with a skip in her step, to the spot where she had been lying and sniffing the air and settles in to tear the stick to shreds.

When Murdoch dashes back, he doesn’t drop the stick but props it up between his paws in the loose stones along the edge of the deck and gnaws manically on one end. He lies down to chew more thoroughly and I return to my mug of tea and the breeze in the trees and the sounds of splintering wood.

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