I have another week of school and then a gloriously long but short summer arrives and I will be running away.
Away from bells and grading and late assignments. Away from loud voices echoing down concrete halls and the numb exhaustion that enfeebles me and binds my feet to the floor.
My new dog Leia sleeps with my husband and me. For the last two nights, she has developed a new habit that is genius and startling. Around two in the morning, she becomes cold; I have awakened to the feeling of her trembling. Two nights ago, she somehow slipped under the blanket, between my Beloved and me. I was peripherally aware of her slick spine moving down the length of my body as she burrowed under the blankets to sleep at our feet.
Last night, I didn’t enjoy the sensation of her fur. Last night, I had the “pleasure” of her claws digging into my skin as she used my leg as a pole to travel under the blanket and to her nesting spot.
This morning, like yesterday, I awoke around 5:30 in the morning. Today, Leia had already emerged from her subterranean blanket hole and was wedged between my Beloved’s shoulders and mine. Noticing that I was coming out of my slumber, Leia shifted her weight and sort of leaned-fell onto my side, resting her head on my chest. For 15 slow and sleepy minutes, I ran my fingers over the soft ridge of her scalp, rubbed her ears, and enjoyed the simple quiet of my dog nestling close to me.
All is right and good and wonderful in my world.
Eventually I emerged from my cocoon, walked Leia, drank coffee and ate my breakfast. We watched the second episode of Anne With An “E.”. By the way, I find the show wonderful and artistic and incredibly sad. In some respects, the show captures Montgomery’s novel. In other respects, the writers/directors explore the social darkness that existed in the time period, woes that were normal and acceptable.
By 8:00, though, my body had awakened enough that I needed to find an escape. With the rest of the family asleep and Leia dropping her rope toy on my lap to encourage me to play, I filled my water bottles, grabbed an extra leash, and drove to the local state park.
Given how early we were, the paths were empty. Leia skirted from edge to edge, nipping at the grass while following whatever scent trails she could find. As I created one hill and put a mile behind us. The fatigue of the year hunched for a moment on my shoulders before withering away.
I have had an incredible year, but the new onslaught of new challenges have been terribly wearying. I have at least 11 more years to retirement and plan on staying longer. But given recent events and a federal budget proposal that recommends a 13% decrease in education spending, the sense of demoralization is starting to drown me.
But today was not about staring into a murky oracle and wondering about my future. Today was about walking along a forest path, taking my dog to the stream so that she could wade and play.
Today was about listening to the pace of my breathing in rhythm to the bird song. Today was about standing on the shore’s edge and thrilling when a great blue heron loosed itself from gravity and skimmed the water’s horizon before alighting in the tall grass growing from the water.
Just before Leia and I crossed the bridge by the dam, a doe and her fawn launched from the edge, sprinted through the shallows, and leapt up the other side. For a moment, my dog and I stood still, watching the deer evaporate into the thicket.
On the other side of the lake, Leia and I came upon a box turtle squatting in a shallow hole. She was laying her eggs.
Today was about finding little shards of life that have more weight and meaning than…well than any anchor that could stumble around my neck and drown me.
Today, I threw a stick in the water so that Leia could go swimming and play fetch. I stood on a shallow sandbar and laughed as she dashed along the banks, spraying water.
I own a silly dog that slithers along my leg at night or will jump on me, planting her wet paws on my belly, she laughs with me. She laughed at me.