Greeting Seasonings

Whichever hour I woke, I would set the coffee on and get dressed. With a cup full of light, sweet brew, I’d sit on the top front step. She’d be beside me, sometimes close for warmth, sometimes sprawled on the cool cement.

I wish I could say it was idyllic. With a state highway, train tracks, and industrial river traffic, it was either less or more noisy. I came for the movement of land and sky. She came to heal me.

At the time, I called it “keeping me company.” She found her place in my life when she was five years old. Her cinnamon coat had mellowed in seven years since. The brassy red undertones had grayed to frame her wise brown eyes.

Every day there were twitterings among the hedge of lilac debris and growth, every day in every season. Rarely, monumental osprey would scree through our brief sky, or a hawk would float toward the grasses beyond the house. Once, during a spring salmon run, there were bald eagles feeding from logs stowed in the river against pylons.

I suppose these were good reasons we hadn’t any rodents around—squirrels, chipmunks, they tended to stay farther up the road instead of on the hard, harsh bluff.

Unless we were both panting, stillness was found beneath the rumble of progress. She taught me to be gentle with my body and voice. The shame I feel now for shouting and swatting her rump when once I found the contents of the kitchen trashcan had been professionally excavated…. I learned from her to listen without my ears to everyone and everything that entered my field of influence, a field smaller than I had imagined.

I still haven’t learned what she tried to teach me about humankind; she simply assumed everyone was friendly until they proved they were otherwise. Yeah, that will take me more than her sum of 14 years.

Through her, I found when and how to be kind—always and all ways.

At the end of our time on the top front step, she had healed me as much as she could. Her body was covered in masses, even on her leg. What she hadn’t been allowed to learn was how to heal without internalizing others’ woundedness.

There came a puppy across the drive that would run the chain link fence repeatedly until it was unwound. One morning the ritual of barks and whines finished and our second dog, still under a year old, howled in a way that brought me running. She had enjoyed her last chase, come panting to the back porch and died of a heart attack.

I miss Cinnamon’s stealthy nose nestling beneath my restless palm and her cheerful greeting even when arthritis forced her to deliver it to you with a limp.

I didn’t really like coffee anyhow. Neither did she.

©2012 Sandra Davidson

3 responses to “Greeting Seasonings

  1. We so blessed to have had 7 years with Cinnamon. She was a special girl–potty-trained the new pup in 3 days–never had another accident. Cinna lives on in that pup–she taught him much of that which makes him so exceptional. She’s buried out back, under the sheltering branches of a cedar tree, but as long as we’re living she will live on in our hearts.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I had no intentions on reading anything this chilly morning until I saw I had a gift in my inbox. An early Christmas present it turns out.

    “Rarely, monumental osprey would scree through our brief sky, or a hawk would float toward the grasses beyond the house.” Classic writing in the style of Emily Dickerson.

    I too once had a really good four legged friend, his name was October and he too died of a heart attack. What I most remember about him was the way he patrolled the house at night. You could hear the tics of his claws on the hardwood floor. When his patrol was done, he would drop down on the floor at the foot the bed. That made me feel so safe and my sleep was easy.

    Again, really beautiful, clear writing this one. Thank you.

    • Thank you. I am grateful you took the time to read, and their habits are a comfort. The sensation of safety is hard to come by. Bless October, and your December.

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