Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dog Days of Summer: Part I

Dover and I set out on our morning walk the weekend of July 4th and found a table at the end of our street with about 100 cups of water arranged in rows. There were four young adults managing the table, talking in early morning, subdued voices. Just past the table, where the street joins the state highway, a big sign and an arrow to the right said "RACE." I called back to the water table and asked what time the race would be going by. "In about 2 minutes" they replied. So Dover and I reversed course and headed home to watch the race go by our house. "We love your dog!" one of the water people called out. "Thanks!"! I shouted back.

Half way down the block, the leader came puffing along, and shortly after him came two more, then two more, then a neighbor ran by and waved. Closer to home, one of the women called out to Dover "What a Sweetheart!", and shortly afterwards, as I stood and Dover sat on the side walk, people waved, we waved back; one man did a thumbs up and called "Goldens roll!"

Two men passed, maybe a minute apart, and I was sure neither of them would make it to the corner; they sounded and looked as if they were in pain and even, perhaps,  close to a heart attack or immanent collapse. A young boy ran by, and then a young girl with a long braid down her back. A father pushed a carriage in front of him, then another, and another and then a mother with a carriage, then a whole family, mother and father loping along pushing a carriage apiece with three kids enjoying the bumpy ride on our patched and still open pot-holey street. The spacing between the runners lengthened, and Dover and I went into the yard, Dover in pursuit of tennis balls, I in pursuit of a few weeds.

Dover has his technique worked out: When I am crouched down pulling weeds, he drops a tennis ball by my hand or weed weapon and waits expectantly. If I don't play his game, he edges closer, noses the ball nearer, and wiggles until I snatch it up and toss it briskly over my shoulder. The game is on, and and we repeat this process until I go in - Dover never never ever tires of games that involve tennis balls.

Further in to July, which is almost over now, I have been to Minnesota and back to visit family, been to a birthday party around a campfire, sweltered through 100 degree heat (at home as well as in Minnesota), washed the dog, enjoyed another Amtrak trip, thoroughly enjoyed an end-of-circus-camp show, and took Dover and his friends swimming in a local water hole. Other stuff happened to, such as a group visit to rate the lobster rolls at the local roadside lobster roll shack.

And earlier this month, a good friend died on the day after his 88th birthday, an elderly gent who through his imperturbable enjoyment of life showed us all that growing old calmly and gracefully is a worthwhile pastime and that there is beauty to be enjoyed wherever one might be. He loved art, Scrabble, bridge, learning, music, church, family and friends, food and wine, expressing opinions, and, above all, his cat Skipper. He made his corner of the nursing home where he spent the last few weeks of his life into a hospitable and welcoming spot; he kept his 88 years of life visually present so that as his physical body failed, he continued to be in the presence of family past and current, friends from long ago and those he more recently acquired.

Jack wrote his own  obituary, which ended with this sentence:
In lieu of flowers and memorial donations, I would prefer my friends to set aside a quiet moment and reflect on the joy your friendship has given me. And then -  go on your way enjoying life and enriching the lives of others.   Alleluia, Alleluia!