November 13, 2011

Quiet Before

I am aging. There’s no other way to say it, but straight out and honestly. I. Am. Aging.

It was inevitable, of course. Can’t stop what’s supposed to happen, but this week my aging opened the front door and I could no longer ignore her (yes, my age is somehow a “her” – no explanation). I think she walked in with the weather, but I can’t be sure. All I know is that she was quiet and then like a sudden hailstorm on a metal roof, she could not be denied.

This is not to say that my life is a storm. On the contrary. My life is more than just one thing. It is a sunny day, a standstill snowstorm, a sweet-smelling Spring shower, a gray stagnant afternoon, a pink cloudless morning…I could go on, but you get the idea. My life is full and unexpected, boring and predictable, sweet and sleepy all at the same time, all the time.

I suppose all of this wonder of my life (and my age) showed up at the front step because I took stock of all the amazing friends, family, and life experiences I have each and every week. Yes, part of this is due to the fact that I am a dog dog walker, but it’s also due to the fact that I’ve been born into this one, brief life and it is my nature to capture the splendor of of every second of every sun that rises, downpour that soaks me, and friend who crosses my path.

And all of this awareness coincided with the most interesting week of weather. Sure, we’ve had weather like this before and sure, we’ve had the wide variety of weather we’ve had this week many times in the past. But somehow the weather extremes highlighted all that is good and beautiful in my life and the storm of my realization crept up on me like the (rain, hail, wind) storm we experienced at the end of the week.

It started slowly. Monday was a cloudy day that ended in sunshine and the shimmering colors of Autumn’s last attempt to hang on. We walked with Rosie and Tyson. Nothing extraordinary unfolded — just a walk with my two friends, treats fed to us at all the right times, and six pairs of keen eyes focused on the possibility of cats and squirrels and a hole in the treat bag.

Still. And still. As in quiet still and an anticipatory still. It cannot be denied. I was content on Monday. Content with Boxers in a garden. Content with gray paint across the sky. Content with splashes of color that took my breath away. Content with the windless possibilities of the day.

And then in the afternoon, an unexpected trip with my friend Paige to the rabbit park only I became the rabbit and Paige remained and will forever be the Huntress of my Heart.

Yes, we played. And we laughed. And we smelled all that was good in the world. And we counted the quiet before, the calm of what was to come.

Tuesday was simply Rosie, but I do not say that with any less passion and contentment. There was sun…

and there was Rosie and there was rosy.

Don’t let her serious photographs fool you. She tells some of the best jokes and when I least expect it, she can cajole me into my clownish behavior with just one jowly punch to my side. It took a long time (relatively speaking) for me to meet Rosie (Gretchen walked her for almost a year before we were introduced), but not our tails (her stub and my plume) beat with the same rhythm of happiness when we greet each other.

Wednesday was Monty and Rosie. Now if that doesn’t make you smile, I’m not certain anything can. The city was outlined in fog but the promise of sunshine melted it all away slowly and surely.

By the afternoon when it was Monty and Paige, the sun on our backs was an invitation to play and play we did. First, we walked at Camp Long and told stories at the amphitheater.

Then we headed over to the baseball field and played an imaginary game of baseball.

I think it was at this point that my age knocked on the door. Or perhaps it was that night when my body twitched and ached from my adventures. I heard Gretchen say to Ann, “I think he’s worn out” but I was too happily exhausted to respond.

Thursday showed up with more sunshine and that eerie feeling that something big was coming. Yes, the calm before the storm itched at our skin. Still, Rosie and I smiled and squinted and did our best to enjoy the moment before us.

Overnight the rain came. Slowly and steadily. I dreamt about washing machines and waves and all things water and Friday stepped into the weather with my head up and my curls down.

Even the sharp-shinned hawk we spotted in the tree tucked its head against the rain (I’ve added a photo of what one really looks like with its head NOT tucked!)

The rain was soft and scattered when we started out in the morning and for that, Rosie and Tyson were grateful. By mid-day, the rain found its voice and roared down on Monty and me like a waterfall. Hard to photograph how soaked we were, but trust me, soaked can’t even begin to explain.


Ann had the day off from work on Friday and so while Gretchen headed off to the warm waters of Wellsprings K9 to work, I helped Ann wade through the torrential waters of her teaching requirements — REPORT CARD TIME!

And then the hailstorm hit. Water and rocks– that’s the only way I can explain it. They came down with a vengeance and that’s when I opened the front door to find my age standing on the front porch. It’s hard to explain, but the moment before I opened the door, I knew she’d be there. She wore a tattered coat of experience and wonder and a hat as wide as joy and as full as love.

There was no need to invite her in. She was home and I welcomed her with open paws. I couldn’t be the happy and loved dog I was without her. To not appreciate her presence in my life was to deny every curl on my head. And so we laughed and sang; we sat on the couch together and reminisced. We told stories about things we thought we’d forgotten and held paws remembering the losses and the loves.

She’s here now — my age — and I’m not letting her go. Instead I’m going to wear her like my favorite coat (which if you know my disdain of coats is saying quite a lot). When we picked Gretchen up from work on Saturday afternoon, I introduced my age to Paige who I learned was spending some days (and nights) with us. Saturday night was spent watching movies and curling up with each other under the blankets on the couch and I thought it profound that the names of my friends – Age and Paige – rhymed. And how funny it was that Paige collected all the tennis balls in the house and brought them to us.

The rain fell outside — silently and with purpose — and the three of us fell asleep dreaming of rabbits and baseball, visitors and sunshine, friends, flowers, and those quiet, calm moments before (and after).





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