Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Clyde The Fraud Dog Days
Summer 2005: There is a rainbow, the last fourth of it shining out from the depths of a billowy white cloud with grey edges sitting over some small cove across the bay. The water today is cerulean blue and the trees myriad shades of bright green, the kind of green that comes from mixing blues with yellows, and Clyde is running in what we call a yard, a little over a acre of grass edged with alders, devils club, fireweed, nettles, and raspberry bushes clinging to clay soil as though their fragile roots could hold off high tide and wind and all the forces of erosion that chip away at the bluff our house sits on and just above.
Clyde’s coat is shiny black, almost achingly gleaming, and feathered strokes of white wisps curl off his chest and toes. Clyde prances like a proud horse, if his nostrils were larger, I swear I could hear him snort like a mustang. He paws the ground and throws his head back, glancing at me to see if I’m watching. He finds his new toy and brings it to me but then changes his mind and runs the other way trying to get me to play the game his way. I watch the neighborhood pheasant make an awkward u-turn as he stupidly wanders in Clyde’s direction, but Clyde is sufficiently distracted and not much of an animal chaser anyway.
I walk with Clyde up the dirt road we call our street for half a mile or so and then we turn around and slowly walk back down, stopping every few feet just to stare at the rainbow and how it just sits there without fading over some small cove across the bay, how it shines color on some happy place blessing the entire bay with its presence and how it is not by any stretch of the imagination the first rainbow I’ve seen since moving here and I wonder if I will ever become desensitized to rainbows.
Wandering down the dusty lane flanked by green I notice a neighbors log house and how like a kingdom it seems. It is a home assuredly grown over decades of living in one place and it reigns over at the same time that it seems to serve the land it sits on, the ocean it looks out on, the open sky it surveys, the mountains and glaciers and coves over the water that beckon.
When I was a girl, I played outside for hours. I hated coming inside even to pee. In the face of this- yet another rainbow- I strain to remember myself, a girl who climbed trees, caught crawdads, played in creeks, built bridges over ditches, and took long solitary hikes out of the subdivision and into nearby farmland. A girl who built tree houses and forts, I wandered the outdoors, swam, rode bikes, skateboarded, and pitched tents in the backyard. When my parents took us to visit relatives who lived by the river and the woods, they were the first place I headed, with another child or alone. Let loose from the car on a Sunday drive in the mountains, I scrambled headlong up the nearest rock as fast as I could, my lungs screaming until I could climb not one inch further and had gotten myself into a spot I surely might never get out of and always did, inching my way back down eighty degree inclines of slick rock to taunt my younger brother for not keeping up and then turning abruptly to lead him up yet another direction and possible disaster.
These are the things I remember now staring at this perfect place and this perfect rainbow. Clyde is patient with me, sitting beside me as long as I want to stand in one place, motionless. Homer, and the bay it calls home, appears, a long lost prince come to catch me sleeping, showering me with rainbows and light that turns shadows into glitter, waking me up from my adult slumber. Three cranes fly overhead, their necks long like their legs, their bodies a brown oval. The sound they make is haunting and beautiful. It is the sound that desire might make if it were made into music. It is the sound of a mother calling a child home at the last light of day.
I tell Clyde that we will be taking long walks on the beach, to prepare to spend entire days wandering up and down the east end of the bay. I advise him that it is time for me to go outside and play again, for no reason at all. That it is time for me to stay out long after I have to pee. He can come with me and we will look for dead crabs on the shore and circle rocks and more. I will throw sticks for him and he can swim all he wants in the ocean. Clyde’s tongue hangs crookedly out of his happy mouth and he meets my gaze with his, evenly as though to say I’ll hold you to that promise. We finish our short walk of long pauses and sit on the deck together. I wrap myself in a blanket and watch the sky until it is very late. Clyde sits at my feet with his head on his paws.
The rainbow does not fade. Stubbornly, bands of red, yellow, and green hang in the midnight sky of deepening dusk. The billowy cloud drifts away revealing more of the rainbow, which now arcs over half the sky, even as I retire for the night and the sun slowly makes its summer descent. Sleep comes slowly and I think it is my imagination when I hear the cranes again, whooping faintly, but insistently in the distance.