Spring is a blustery time. A time of longing and too soon and still cold and then the phone rings and the cat steps out of the cupboard and well it is no ordinary Saturday. I have been dog sitting the past few months. Part of my new Girl Friday/Personal Assistant duties even though not on my original “task list” –who knew I had such capacity to love given my solitary track record and the great distances between my two legged relationships . So thank you life for giving me other people’s pets to love. And there have been a variety: Labradoodle (very regal), Corgi (energetic) and now two Bulldogs I’m not quite sure how to describe.
Almost reptilian their weight low to the ground. That under bite so hillbilly dental and pushed in (lovable) face that looks up with longing and rests easily on the top of my foot. Their coat beautiful and buff. I listen to them lick themselves clean like a cat. And they snore and snort all through the night. I contemplate changing rooms though imagine they would simply follow me so I stay put. Adjust. When I wake in the morning there they are. Waiting (heaven only knows how long) for me to wake too. Ruby does a little dance and so suddenly I am dancing too. Around this borrowed bedroom in leaps and circles, and even Ace does a little thing with his front paw. All so happy. The other dogs on my watch have the same routine. Wait patiently beside the bed. For my eyes to open. For my voice to call their name. To begin again. Good thing I’m a morning person. All this unconditional adoration before coffee.
And what’s not to love about them too when they ask so little of you, a walk in the arroyo, a belly rub, a few tender words, give the dog a bone. Ruby Tuesday and Ace is the Place and the Rubicon and well there is no judgment in their eyes. Not even walking on dog slobber while I’m trying to cook dinner is too annoying. Minor on some level – compared to sleeping in the wet spot–though I do go in search of slippers.
And today a big wind blows. The weather nemesis that is Santa Fe in spring. Thirty-six degrees before wind chill. I go on a walkabout to explore trails on the north side of Hyde Park Road. Invigorating. Love every minute. The you are here trail number scratched out at every sign. Who does these things? The Buddha on top of the ridge. Dust billows in the valley. A man who forgot his hat. I lost in nostalgia from a phone call that crossed 30 years to ring that morning. The voice a connection that lights you up like Christmas. Puts you back together in a way you forgot you were broken. I barely 19. He saw me like an x-ray. All of us: from Ohio and Michigan and Minnesota.
All broken and brilliant, hopeful and strong. Dancing our dreams at the 3.2 bar and hiking our way through the Rockies. He told me you haven’t lived long enough to look back on your life. And now I have. I could spend the rest of my life having that conversation. So there it is –come full circle. This voice from the past holding my letter in his hands. A spring blizzard raging. He 30 years sober and married. Made a good life. I so certain he had walked off the edge a long time ago cannot even describe the elation. Thrilled he is alive and well. Thriving. Somehow this gives me permission for happiness too. For success no matter the failures or judgments. What joy to stand visible in the eyes of a beholder who saw you the first time your world cracked open. And yes, I do normal well I tell him. We laugh.
The wind whirling so strong now. It whistles and bends low then flares up like fire. All the ghosts are flung out of hiding. I hear them skipping across the roof and against the windows and imagine my ristra has blown off the side of the house again. Chile seeds scattered like pearls. Like today. Gifts come when we least expect them. Pick them up and put them in your pocket. For safekeeping.
We all sleep at the base of the volcano Sage.
When not dog sitting or running errands for other people Brenda works in her home studio painting abstract shapes on small canvas and writing the occasional poem. Her work can be seen at the new Kristin Johnson Fine Art Gallery in Santa Fe or on her website. Studio visits welcome and by appointment.