one a.m. storm

White light flashes in under the heavy, floor-length drapes bold as the headlights of a parking car blazing into a ground-floor cheap motel room. Intermittent high-pitched yips burst froth when Lou can’t contain her anxiety. “Kennel,” I say in a quiet voice. “Kennel.” A snuffle, then silence until the next rumble of thunder, gunfire at the edge of the clearing. Then she is on her feet again, this time a paw on the bed, nose practically in my ear.

“Okay.”

We slip out of the bedroom. Like me, fear activates Lou’s bladder, and she runs outside into flashing lightning to pee. Afterward, we stalk around the house for a few minutes. I drink a glass of water and hope we have seen the worst of this storm. January 14, shortly after one a.m. and 72 degrees. We’ve only had one short-lived freeze so far this winter. I need to start digging up what used to be my pretty little border garden in front of the house and rescue it from the disaster I’ve allowed it to become. One in the morning is not a time for self-congratulation. It’s when I can easily list my shortcomings on both hands and my bare feet, the things I do but shouldn’t and the things I don’t do but should. A time I would rather sleep through.

Ah, well. Let’s get a treat for Lou, go back to bed, and hope for the best.

Training Day

Beth and Maggie, January 2004
Beth and Maggie, January 2004

Here in a friend’s field in the north end of Escambia County, Maggie is teaching Buck and me about retriever training. When we adopted her last May, Maggie was 3 1/2 years old, had beaucoup ribbons and carried a Senior Hunter Retriever title. We’re taking her to an AKC hunt test just over the line in Alabama Saturday. We’re not quite trained up yet, so keep your fingers crossed we don’t embarrass our champion!