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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Leaves

Something unusual happened the other day. No, a meteor didn’t land in the front yard. Ed McMahan has yet to show up with that huge check made out to me.  In fact, nothing real note worthy occurred at all; yet something unusual happened.
While walking Ike, I actually started to laugh out loud. I know, I know. Dog walking rarely borders on hilarity. Enjoyable at most times, sometimes approaching amusing; very rarely does one burst out in laughter.
See, it was a beautiful Indian Summer day. For the nit-pickers, yes, it was an Indian Summer day, as it arrived after the first frost, as well as first snow fall. It was one of those perfect Autumn days only found in the Midwest. The sky was a nearly too-perfect blue, the temperature hovered near 75 degrees, the trees were an artist pallet of color.
We were atop a hill overlooking the river which flows past our home. Every once in a while, a hearty on-shore breeze would sweep up the river, climb the hill, and be lost. As these gusts of wind transported a significant number of leaves, Ike was captivated.
Being a 7 month old puppy, he has never experienced leaves blowing in the wind before. Standing with his ears erect, he would dart, and jump, and pounce on these animated objects as they swirled past. Occasionally, he would manage to catch one. While holding it down with his forefeet, he would sample it with his teeth. 
He was totally content with his treasure….until another blast of wind came off Lake Erie, bearing more objects to be desired. He would jump to his feet, snapping at leaves while running to the limit of his lead.  Empty pawed, he would return to his former treasure, only to find it, too, was gone. He would sniff around, ears upright, searching for the prize. Alas, the leaf had been borne away with the wind.
Seeing his antics created no loss of amusement for me. I must have looked the fool; standing on the hill, attached to a dog, laughing like a… well, I don’t know what. He just looked so funny!  I could see people driving past on the boulevard smiling as they watched us. Certainly, they saw the humor in the moment. 
Eventually, I became bored with laughing at a puppy chasing leaves. The concerns of the day crept around the tree line; sneaked up the hillside; dropped from the overarching tree branches to fill my head with “things I gotta do”.  We returned home, me encouraging Ike to cease and desist with leaf chasing and get in the door.
Two days later, it was chilly. Wind whipped rain swept across the yard. We didn’t go to the hill, as years of walking dogs during inclement weather as taught me to avoid that open area. The wind whistles upstream, then slams into the hill, mounting skyward with gale forces. Ike is not really thrilled with rain, and he really can’t understand this whole concept of snow. However, while outdoors, a gust of wind carried a small handful of leaves across our path. Suddenly, the wind and rain were inconsequential. He was chasing leaves on a sunny, warm November afternoon again. 
For some reason, I didn’t find this display of boundless energy and enthusiasm quite as amusing as previously. Ice-water trickling down the back of my neck does that to me.  In fact, I think my initial response was “Are you kidding me? You are going to stand out here, getting soaked, to chase leaves?”
Finally, I was able to get Ike to the door, but not without his gamely attempting to snatch a leaf from the walkway just before entering our home.
Today, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning, thinking about Ike and leaves. I stifled a giggle so as not to awaken my Lovely Bride. It is pretty funny, whether in the sun or chill rain; a little dog trying to catch swirling leaves.
How many leaves do we chase, I wondered. How many people have dropped everything in order to chase after something unattainable? How many have turned back, to find their original treasure gone?
Deep in thought, I drifted off to sleep comforted by the sound of wind-borne leaves rattling on the window pane, to dream of a little white dog, happily grabbing leaves carried by a soft, warm breeze.


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