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.


Dan said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Scott 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,

Anonymous said...

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