Friday, September 25, 2009

Hard Choices

It’s a hard choice. On a gray morning it’d be nice to roll over and go back to sleep. Then, again, mornings are quiet, peaceful times for reflection. Dawn has the day off. We need the time to prepare for company over the weekend. The Pooch continues with sneaky attempts to get me to feed him breakfast after a quick run outside to dig in the corn garden. It’s a mistful morning. Dog and cat sit side by side at the foot of the silver maples in the rear of the property. Both are intent on watching horses in the corral across the access road that separates our place from the neighbors.

Dead still. Leaves drift from the maples leaving a mottled carpet on the lawn. Mandy growls at the pumpkin patch, her hackles rising to bristles across her shoulders. “It’s all right girl.” I reach down and touch her head. “There’s nothing there but pumpkins.” An occasional vehicle rumbles down the highway. Down at the river, crows are calling out to each other.

On our afternoon walk, I stop to talk with my neighbor. He’s pitching hay to the horses in the corral. He tells me he’s been away for awhile visiting a son-in-law who’s back in the states after another tour in Iraq. I describe Mandy’s encounter with the electric fence. The cat sniffs at the weeds at the edge of the dirt road while Mandy hesitates approaching this unfamiliar man. R… tells me one of his dogs died. It was a pretty sheep dog/ collie mix. Black and white. He describes the treatments before the dog died. Nothing worked. He’s unusually reserved. “ T…’s arriving about now at the Lacrosse airport.” I don’t discuss politics with neighbors or any of the locals. Many have sons and daughters in Afghanistan or Iraq. Politics don’t matter when a loved one’s life is at stake.

This morning the dog is alert and happy. Her tail wags furiously when greeting me. She climbs on my knee and stretches to reach my ear. I get snurfled and then she is distracted, biting on her tail. The cat watches with amusement as Mandy runs in a circle chasing her tail. After both animals inhale a breakfast of raw ground pork, the cat jumps from the kitchen window to the deck door. I let him out for his morning patrol of the perimeter. Mandy jumps on her favorite chair and falls asleep. Each time I move about the kitchen or walk to the office, she looks up at me. Her eyes say, “Ok, ok, I’m on the chair, but I’m not feeling well.”

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