In the Woods with Dogs.

Budlore Amadeus, the Dog of the Amadai, wanted to go out after breakfast. It’s not that he wanted to, or needed to, go out, no not at all, he wanted me to go with him. It was wet, foggy, and damp outside, and going out into the woods with Bud meant my shoes would be wet, and I might pick up a tick or two. But when a dog wants to go into the woods with you, there’s an unspoken agreement that going out into the woods is the best thing ever, so out we go. 

I called Wrex Wyatt to go with us, and he hesitated, and once outside, he quickly doubled back and waited on the porch for us to return. Wrex is aging, and this is the first time I’ve noticed he didn’t join us. 

Both Jessica Elizabeth and Bud hit the trails at speed, and disappear. They’ll wend their way back and forth, closer then further away, no scent unsmelled, no trace of an interloper left uninvestigated, and in Bud’s case, no tree left dry. But Budlore comes in, staying just ahead of me on the trail, tail up, nose to the ground, and he steps over a small rat snake, as do I. There’s no reason to get excited, and the snake freezes, allowing us to go our way, as he will, too. 

Spiders have cast webs, trapping tiny drops of water, magnolia leaves have ponds on them, and the whole world seems soaked with dampness. High above, there’s some clearing, but close to the ground the air is a semiliquid that delays the dawn, and mixes shadows with darkness and gray. 

The overstory of the giant oaks acts as an umbrella, blocks direct rain, but leaking fog through. It’s a surreal and magical feeling, to be embraced within the atmosphere of such ancient and powerful creatures, who stand without effort or strain, reaching towards the nearest star, and the center of the earth, for every moment of their lives. 

I stop to take a photo of the trees, but the light isn’t right. Budlore comes in at speed, as fast as he can run, and I know to stand still, and he will pass. Bud zooms by, barely grazing me, his body a rocket with four legs. He makes the circuit before I can go fifty feet, and comes back again, this time to check in, to show me how happy and excited he is, too. Jessica, on the other paw, is somewhere in the woods, likely digging, but she’s getting to be more solitary now. Jess may, or she may not, follow us in, or she may decide to stay in the woods, and do whatever it is that Jessica does when no one else is with her. She’s becoming an adult, forming into who she wants to be, more and more each day. She likes the solitude of the woods, off the path, alone with the scents that draw her attention. I feel this, and understand it, too. 

Lilith Anne doesn’t go with us anymore. At ten years old, she’s no longer interested in leaf collecting, or whatever creatures are passing through the woods. She slowly chases spots of sunlight, finding a nice place to nap and be warm. This morning is not her type of day, and so the bed will have to suffice. 

Half the pack is inside, not motivated to go out. I’ve seen this before, many times, where a puppy is suddenly gimpy, ten years after arriving here. The very young become more independent, the old dogs become increasingly slow, and the cycle repeats with each new dog.

But Jess comes with us, following Bud, and as we head inside, I wonder why I never grow tired of walking in the same woods every day, sometimes more than once. The dogs never tire of it either, Bud running like he’s chasing the wind, and Jessica investigating the earth Herself. Light or dark, wet or dry, cold or hot, the woods are always the same, and never the woods they were an hour ago. Every space within gives life, feeds life, is everything there is in life, and that is why I am drawn to the trees and the undergrowth, the mushrooms and the snakes. Here in the woods is where we were always supposed to be, even if we never learn it as a whole, there are those of us who will always call this home. 

Take Care,

Mike

Rain

The rain began a couple of hours before noon, a slow descent of drops, which seemed to be the vanguard of many more. By lunch rain was coming down hard, and considering it’s been weeks since the trees or the pond or the plants and animals have seen any rain at all, it was a benison for the Earth. Like putting your ear to a seashell, a roar of water could be heard, rain falling through the leaves of the trees, rushing down to the dry earth, and replenishing what was desperately needed.

My work here is done. There will be no gardening, no composting, no preparation of the ground or building raised beds. This will be my Sabbath, my day of rest, with dogs near and books open. Even music will halt, no classical for background, no instrumentals for breaks in thought, no. This is a day of water, of the drenching of the roof and windows, and the sound of this action is all that is needed, conducive as anything created by any composer with two legs, for the human mind to be at ease in focus.

My compost pile is getting a natural dousing, which is very good, and it will be easier to fill the new garden bed. The pond needs water, but it always has and always will, and the pollen ought to find itself somewhere other than my truck. Yet the rain must also show up in print, being read or being written, and I wonder how other writers have decided when to add the rain.

A story about a group of survivors, trying to figure out if they can grow enough crops in a post-apocalyptic world, find themselves waking up to their first good rain, and they realize work is impossible for the day. Some sleep, some gather in small groups and talk, to plan, like farmers always have and always will in down time. Men seek out women, women seek out men, lovers find places to forget about the horrors of life, solace sought inside the bodies of another, and the rain comes down hard. The narrator stares out into the storm, watching in the dim light of the day, as much needed rain falls, and subconsciously he knows there’s a point of too much, but there’s nothing to be done if this happens. One bad harvest and they all will die, he knows they have to expand, and send others out to farm the land away from this place. Everything but the rain, and right now, seems impossibly far away, to this man.

I have a scene in mind, for what story I do not know yet, of a woman who is seeing a man, and their level of intimacy is getting warmer each time they are in the same room alone together. She left a bad relationship, still feels the pain of it, it still haunts her thoughts, and heart, but this man. The night before he left early, she asked him to, for her body’s desire was overriding her ability to sort it out, and after all, they were going canoeing with another couple, but now the rain.

They cancelled the plans on the phone, and without thinking about it, she went to his house, without calling, and now she’s sitting on his bed, and he’s in the shower, the bathroom door open, the rain pounding the roof, and so many thoughts are running through her mind. Join him, take her clothes off and wait, just ease back on the bed, and let him come to her, is she being too forward after last night, it’s like a swarm of cupids, all of them shooting arrows in different directions, and she doesn’t know what to do next, only she has to, now is the time.

To her horror and dismay, he goes downstairs, after all that’s where he left her. She starts to follow, then decides to wait. He calls for her, she tells him she’s upstairs, and now he’s going to find her on the bed. She can hear his steps on the wooden stairs, and she positions herself on the pillow, and hears the first roll of thunder in the distance.

Sex and storms have a long term affair going, they always have, always will, both involve so much motion, so much combining of certain elements for the conditions to be just right. Lightning, thunder, orgasms, cries of pleasure torn out of a lover’s throat like the wind suddenly blowing a shutter open hard. She’s waiting for him.

Take Care,

Mike