April 1st, 2023 – 5:24 am
At the cottage. Wind howling. Rain pounding. And lightning. An eerie delight so early.
I can’t sleep any longer, not because of the weather—Mother Nature doing what she’s always done, rule this place—but because being here after being gone so long, gets me thinking. A dangerous, yet beautiful activity. So many thoughts come simultaneously that I need to engage as soon as possible so that when the wheels start spinning, they have traction. Focus. Solid ground. Direction. That’s what a man needs when he’s caught up in the negotiations between daylight and dark. So, we rolled out of bed about five.
We, meaning me and my dog, Astro. A Husky mix that’s playful, nervous, inquisitive, and always ON when we’re at home. If he’s not playing with his buddy, Iggy the cat, he’s following, laying on, or playing with his life partner, Spindle—the Buggle, a beagle, pug, and bulldog mix. When they’ve had enough of his companionship, he finds his way to me. Watches me work, never completely resting, and nine times out of ten when I look at him, he has at least one eye open, on me.
Astro came for all of us. My wife, my kids, the other pets. We were meant to meet. I know he’s a dog. An animal. But I’m an animal too, and I understand what it’s like to know where it is you’re supposed to be. That there is a connection between all living creatures and love and friendship is love and friendship no matter what we look like, how we smell, or what language we speak. The bond I feel with Astro is old school. Like one of us was sitting at a fire in the wild one night. Lonely. Struggling to stay warm. Contemplating the secrets that darkness keeps. Looking for hope in the flickering flames. The other was making his way through the forest. Doing what was necessary day and night to stay hydrated and fed. Always on the move. One foot in front of the other, but never sure-footed long enough to rest. Propelled forward by an innate will to survive, or anxiousness.
Neither of us expected or asked for a partner. And I’m not sure which one of us was at the fire and which one was in the woods. But here we are now.
The wind and rain are quiet now. The April Fool’s storm has passed. The cottage’s lights and furnace on generator power. Astro is relaxed. It’s a side of him I don’t see often. Zonked out. Both eyes closed. His head on a pillow on the couch. I’m getting there too—to relaxation. But mine will come much later. For now, there’s work to do.