I’ve worked from home the last two days. It’s quality quiet time, uninterrupted save for shepherding Boomer in and out from his corner of the garage to his kennel in the bitter cold.
My office doubles as our laundry room, or perhaps it’s the other way around. The floor is cold concrete, and try as I might, today I cannot warm my toes. So I take a break from speech-writing to stand near the fireplace and look out the glass doors on the back yard.
The heat from the fire brings warms my shins to what feels like an orange glow. A fat gray squirrel hangs bat-like by his hind feet from the bird-feeder, stealing suet and seed meant for chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers from a hanging wire basket. Another bounds through the spruces, sending plumes of powder tumbling down.
Our ancient Airedale Boomer has slept in his dog house most of daylight hours. Now he sits outside, in the snow, watching the trees and sifting the cold breeze with his great black nose. The squirrels escape his notice — sight and sound fail him, and the air is perhaps too dry for scent. He sits stock-still a moment, then turns his palsied head toward the house, directly toward the door — sniffs visibly but makes no sound, then turns his attention back to the trees nearest him. I watch; periodically he turns, looking as though he sees me — but I know he can’t, and he makes no sound. The brilliant cold is rejuvenating and deadly; between the trees and the house, he seems to weigh the consequences. I’ll wait until he barks to bring him in, not out of laziness, but out of mercy to his failing pride.
I should return to work. My shins feel like they’re crisping, but my toes have yet to thaw. I turn away from the glass. Puck sleeps in a tight circle at the end of the futon. This morning our manic Schnauzer is the only one not restless.