Thursday, October 20, 2016

Aggravation, fatigue, and beauty

From the beginning, the migration of wild things fascinated me. I watched bats in the summer streetlights, diving and twisting for mosquitoes, and wondered where they went after winter killed the insects. Crows and geese would come from nowhere to gather, in the spring and fall...and they spoke to me as surely as the stars and the magnetism of the earth spoke to them. They drew me near and I watched them, never knowing exactly why I was watching, but knowing that their wildness was a vital element of life.

—Dan O'Brien, The Rites of Autumn

Dachshunds are high-strung little dogs. They're also...let's just say, not entirely reliable as to housebreaking. I say this with all due affection—I live, by choice, with two of them—but these shortcomings must be admitted. So when they start barking early in the morning, I generally assume they need to go out right away. I might not always be happy about getting out of bed to let them out, but I do it, and I usually manage to be grateful: at least they let me know, right? And it's not so bad if I needed to get up soon anyway.

But gratitude is hard to muster when it's 3:30 in the damn morning.

Bleary-eyed and muttering under my breath so as not to wake Jessica, I stumbled from the bedroom to the kitchen to let the hounds from hell into the back yard. Where, to my consternation, they persisted in barking. Fantastic, now they're going to wake the neighbours. More muttering.

I stepped out to yell at Maxine and Anya, sotto voce so as not to aggravate the neighbours further. I hadn't felt overly warm, but suddenly the cool air on my skin was a blessed relief. And before I could say anything, I heard more barking. Distant. Overhead. And gratitude started seeping back.

I called the dogs in, quietly, and to my relief they came trooping back toward the house—not immediately, of course—they're half-feral, really, or at least half-Farrell—but within a minute or two. I stayed on the back steps for another couple of minutes, breathing in the cool night air, listening to the barking of snow geese, feeling connected to the world again, glad to be in the midst of another migration even if I'm going nowhere.

Other migration posts: