Tuesday, October 9, 2012
It’s the little things
I sit on the warm wood of the deck in a small patch of sunlight. The air is cool in the dappled shade and smells of warm autumn leaves. Each day I can see the sun moving a little bit lower across the sky than the day before, hiding behind the trees and losing power as we slide towards winter.
I talk on the phone to my sister, sit cross legged on the weather worn planks, about a foot from the edge of the deck that floats just inches above the ground at the base of a huge poplar tree. It seems like not that long ago the sun moved across the very middle of the gap in the trees overhead, blasting the deck full-on with heat during the afternoon so you couldn’t sit here for more than a few minutes without beginning to melt. But now it flits along behind the tips of reaching branches, skimming the yellowed treetops, its white light filtering down through shimmying leaves, light and shadow and darker shadow playing across the forest floor, across the deck where I sit, as though I am on the bottom of the ocean, sunlight wavering through water, changing shapes and strips of light playing across rippled sand.
Bear and Murdoch sit on either side of me. Bear’s presence on the deck usually means she is ready to go inside, otherwise she would be lying just off to the right in the clipped weeds and brush, chewing on a stick or staring up into the trees, sniffing the air. I think she just wants to sit beside me instead, but soon gets up and stands at the door. When I glance over my shoulder she gives me a meaningful look.
I hold the phone between my shoulder and my ear; unhook Murdoch from his line because he wants to go in too now. I hold open the door, usher the dogs inside. The wooden screen door closes with a creak and a soft bang and I return to the sunny spot on the deck to feel the last of its warmth on my face and shoulders.
And then there is whining.
I half turn and look at the door. I can just make out Bear staring back, the glint of her eyes, the white of her chin barely visible against the shadowed inside of the house. I return to the door, let her out again. Murdoch has settled into his kennel and does not make a move, which means I will not have to worry about being strangled by his line as he bolts across the deck at the sight of a vehicle trundling down our road. Bear and I can relax then.
I sit back down in my diminishing patch of sun, which has shifted closer to the edge of the deck, but Bear does not sit. She stands beside me and then walks around me. She stands in front of me and looks me in the eye. The tiny stamp of a foot, serious expression in her brown eyes, forehead wrinkled just so. I gesture, “What?” with my empty hand turned up, a shrug of my shoulders. She returns to the door, glances back at me and I realize what she wants.
It is less a patch of sun now than a patch of mottled shadow anyway I think as I get up again and open the door. I follow Bear inside, encourage her up the stairs to the kitchen with a flap of my hand “yes, I’m coming too.” I sit at the kitchen table, the phone still against my ear and watch Bear settle down on her yellow plaid blanket beneath the row of windows; she curls up with her head on her paws, eyes closed tight, and falls asleep. I smile then, involuntarily, and my heart glows a little and I think how wonderful it is to needed like that, wanted in no other way than just to be there. It is simple and perfect and so very Bear.