Last weekend, Clif and I dog-sitted Holly while Shannon went to New York to visit Dee, and Mike worked overtime at his job. We got lucky with the weather, which was warm and splendid. Halleluiah, summer and warm weather! This meant we could spend plenty of time outside, and a good thing, too. Holly is only a year and a half, and she has lots—I repeat—lots of energy. Especially first thing in the morning, which for various reasons, is not my best time.
Still, we did all right. There were walks and kick the ball. There was time spent racing madly around the yard—Holly—while I did some gardening. At 9, our Liam is still lively, but he is an older dog. His days of boundless energy—days I remember well—are behind him. But from time to time he would roust himself to play tag with Holly, and it was fun to watch.
On Saturday or Sunday—I don’t remember which day—Clif and the dogs needed a little nap to revive themselves.
While they were napping, I was able to sit on the patio and watch the buzzing life in the backyard. Dozens of small bugs glittered in the sun as they did a flying dance. Someone with a fanciful mind might have noted they looked like flitting fairies. I wondered, what kind of bugs are they?
As I watched, a dragonfly swooped among the dancing bugs, caught one, and landed on the umbrella under which I was sitting. I could see the dragonfly’s silhouette through the pale tan umbrella, and I watched as he—she?—ate the struggling bug. It took a while before all the parts were chewed and swallowed. Unfortunately, the dragonfly flew away before it occurred to me to snap a picture. I guess that’s what comes of observing intently. There are no thoughts of doing, only of looking.
In between observing, I read some of Mary Oliver’s Long Life, a collection of essays and poems about nature and literature and living in place. Oliver, I think, is a kindred spirit. She writes, “People say to me: wouldn’t you like to see Yosemite. The Bay of Fundy?…I smile and answer, ‘Oh yes—sometime,’ and go off to my woods, my ponds, my sun-filled harbor, no more than a blue comma on the map of the world but, to me, the emblem of everything. It is the intimate, never the general, that is teacherly.”
I concur. As for me, I have my backyard—so full of life—the woods, the sparkling Narrows, the rides along broad Lake Marancook, the library. Everything is here within a five-mile range, I thought.
In the meantime my husband slept, with one dog beside him on the couch and the other beside him on the floor.