There’s a freshness to the air that you can only get at the edge of a lake in the morning. It is a mixture of spice shop, garden shop and my favorite childhood memories all swirled together in a bouquet of delight.
I came down to the dock with the mist still shrouding the waters surface 20 minutes ago, long before the other lake houses were to stir. I love moments like this. These moments were it was just me and the universe and I was in command of every action I took. It was freedom of choice, freedom of criticism or repercussions – it was total soul liberation and I drank it in with the same savoring as I usually reserve for that first cup of coffee each morning. In spite of where I was and what I was doing, a small mole, or rat was gnawing at my moment, and that was knowing that today I was leaving this place after an all too brief stay.
I walked out onto the wooden pier supported by 55 gallon drums and huge blocks of Styrofoam to the furthest point. This is where I had cast off in yesterdays canoe and had spent a delightful day discovering snapping turtles, snails, water striders and a thousand more surprises that I had forgotten even existed in my urban exile. I knew this is where I belonged; I simply didn’t know how to stay here.
Behind me I heard the panting of a big animal and I slowly turned around and saw Duke looking at me, the way he does with his head cocked slightly to the right when he is unsure of what’s going on. Martha was still annoyed at me from the other day when I kept letting Duke fetch sticks that I had thrown into the lake over and over and over again. He was worn out when we returned to the cabin as was I and it was Martha who took it upon herself to brush the long haired dog, cleaning up the matted fur with all the crap Duke picked up from the brambles and what-not’s he tracked through.
I leaned over and Duke approached and I petted his now silky hair. He wanted to chase sticks again because that’s what dogs do. Gliding my hand down Dukes muscular frame I thought that maybe what Duke wanted most was to please me more than sticks. His long hair coat, lovingly brushed to a silky sheen by Martha was perhaps more than simple grooming, but Martha’s way of pleasing me as well.
“Not today Buddy”, I whispered to him. I knew the 3 hour drive back to bus exhaust and cell phones and the sound of far off ambulance sirens would be a quite ride as Martha and I girded ourselves to face the lifestyle we never wanted but accepted as our fate.
I glanced up to the cabin that stood on the rise overlooking the pier and lake. In the kitchen window I could see Martha walking back and forth as she kept herself busy, obscuring the soft lamp behind her which made the window blink like a semaphore lamp. We had come here to spend 2 weeks to help her take her mind off the miscarriage but the solitude and lack of distraction actually intensified her feelings and made it all the harder to work through. I was dealing with my own sense of loss, I told myself and did my best to be there for her, but knew I receded into my space, taking Duke with me and for the most part leaving Martha to deal with things in her own way. The kitchen window winked, winked, and winked again. I may not be the smartest man, but I know a signal when I see one. I walked back toward shore, throwing a stick up toward the house to occupy Duke for a while and entered the kitchen. There she was, humming some old Beatles tune that I could never identify. Norwegian Wood perhaps. My Angel, I thought. I crossed over to her as she gave me a quizzical look. I reached out to her and drew her close and held her.
I was never going to let her go again.