Every evening after supper I scan the sky, estimating what is left of daylight.
"Can I beat the rapidly encroaching night?" I wonder, "And fit in a walk with 'You Know Who'?"
Oh, he has trained me well to talk in code, this furry and devoted friend.
From behind the door to the apartment below he is listening. Keen ears attuned to shoes being removed from rack and tied--he knows what those sounds mean. A gentle paw on wood, and a soft whine, says, "Happy, hopeful dog here. Take me."
Into the evening we go; he on best behaviour borne of love and respect; I with heart of gratitude for the gift that he is to we who share his life. Long may he live, I pray often.
I stride out, he scans ground with nose. We compromise on stops along the way.
The evening is warm and sultry for the season and the streets are school-night empty. I listen to my Walkman as we walk our beat; Bill Bryson's book: Shakespeare: The World as Stage.
A black car slows beside us, windows rolled down. A face beloved to Molson peers out--Brenda in her Honda Civic. She is back from bargain night at the movies with her girls (they saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and it was great, apparently.) They are trying hard to catch up with me, running through the village streets, hair streaming, a walk is not to be missed.
She drives off; tail-lights growing distant; Molson strains to gallop after her. "No way, buddy. I can't run that fast."
I see them on the next corner waiting, and out come the ear buds again. Even Bill Bryson is no contest for the thoughts of young hearts.
We notice how steamy the evening is, just like a bathroom after a hot shower. We count the number of sounds we hear: crickets; tree frogs; dog panting; car tires; footsteps; rustling leaves; the wind. I hope they never forget to notice.
As we pass houses with lights in windows in the gathering dusk, Tippy identifies the children she knows that live in each.
"There's Kendra's house, and Skyler's; Steven's and Tristan's," she says, as we walk on.
"And that's where my bus driver lives."
I feel a pang in my heart at the thought that time flies by so fast and that one day these names will be lost to these houses and they will belong to other children. I cried once at a school photo shoot of Brenda's when she was five and at King George Elementary School. The old school had opened in 1912, and in my mind's eye, I saw the generations of children that had sat where she was sitting, coming and going like leaves in their seasons; oh, an active imagination can have its challenges.
Torie is tiring and sits on the ground, feeling sick she says. I have an idea; what if she holds Molson's leash and lets him pull her along. Will that help? Her eyes brighten with the fun of that idea and she is back on her feet. Molson obligingly pulls.
I look up at the sky and catch my breath. "Look, girls! What kind of a moon is that?"
"A croissant!" cries Tippy to my delight. I love that she knows the intent of my question, and her description fits the crescent moon perfectly. Noticing the moon matters.
We are nearly home already and Torie, sickness forgotten, is now running after Molson as he carries his red leash. Tippy laughs at his sideways gait and says that she can always identify his footprints by his lopsided walk.
I am grateful; for golden dog, for girls that delight in a walk in the evening twilight; for God who is in the breeze and children's laughter. For simple things.