1/21/2008

suburbia re-animated

Yanking trail shoes over socks is enough. Indy hears from three rooms away; I may as well have said walk in his ear. He muzzles me and sings his petition. I rev him, Where’s your leash? Now his croon is resolute.

Indiana Jones is a Yakima Farmdog, a blend of Red Heeler, Husky, and Shepherd. These are guesses, of course, since he bears no pedigree. We rescued him from a vagabond lifestyle that wasn’t working out well.

Deep-chested and athletic, Indy’s the sort of dog that looks good in a bandanna, racing the surf’s curled edge. His medium-length hair is colored caramel, white, and black from tapered snout to crescent tail. Our house is snowed with fur whenever his undercoat blows.

It’s January, dark and clear; a near-full moon makes the chill visible. We push uphill out of our neighborhood and find walking rhythm. I coax my breath to cooperate. Last-minute, I divert onto a side trail; Indy is pleasantly surprised. Trees consume the moonlight and leave us none. It’s easy to picture nocturnal predators, biding, strung for violence. I switch on my Coleman flashlight and script implausible scenarios for Indy and me, repelling a cougar with cinematic panache.

We emerge onto the Tolt Pipeline Trail. The eastern sky is starry, silverscreen-indigo; the flashlight is unneeded under a big moon. Walking westward, an unlikely shade of teal tints the gloaming horizon. This kind of blueness is pilfered from summer and captivatingly out of place – like a full-throated baritone holding one last note.

Indy is suddenly on alert, ears up, white chest flaring. He fixes silently on a shadowed shape barely moonlit. Rabbit? (Good thing I kept him leashed.) I aim, slide the light on. The Coleman’s tight circle tags a figure: untamed, adaptive, gorgeous coyote. I hold my beam on him and he holds his eyes on me, exiting... more like a bird than a dog, ground-flying… more like a ghost than me, vanishing.

I’m a strip of celluloid pulled from the cutting room floor, spliced into someone else’s movie. I look over my shoulder. He wouldn’t follow, would he? He’d keep to the shadows anyway. Indy knows he’s gone and relaxes. Another glance back: two planes fly oppositely, miming stars. Orion bows low to Luna. Cold clearness, so beautiful; suburbia re-animated.

5 comments:

Dan said...

Nice prose, Scott. I feel like I'm walking alongside you and Indy. I would have been nervous about the coyote.

Courtney said...

Stunning. Egan, Lopez, Lamott are your literary peers.

SB said...

Thank you, Dan -- that's definitely the feeling I was trying to evoke. Actually, both feelings: being alongside and being nervous!

Courtney -- wow, thanks. I can't bring myself to own the word "peer", but it sure is nice to read it! As you know, I aspire toward these writers, along with Annie Dillard, Mark Singer, A.J. Liebling, Michael Pollan...

Anonymous said...

thanks for walking my dog,
h

Anonymous said...

That will get your heart rate up...words and journey both. I enjoyed the trip.
Karen