It is dark as I walk up the hill to my car. The little store is secure and dimmed for the night. My drive home is more cautious. Headlights pick up the occasional glow of eyes along the stone walls. The deer and moose rut season is upon us and the animals are moving, losing sight of the dangers roadways pose as they seek a mate.
As I come around the bend in my drive, my “devil dog’s” eyes glow green in the window as my headlights catch her at her post in the window, watching for my return. Wagging tails greet me, and small grunts of pleasure as I hit light switches on my way into the cold house. Cats circle, Belle is demanding I check her food bowl. Dumping my bags I head for the kitchen to fill dog dishes, all the while singing the “Doggy Dinner” song to my audience. Alice dances as kibble hits the ceramic bowl. “Go find your sister!” I demand. She races back toward the door where Dahlie has settled to contemplate her feet, lost in her age and senility. I coax her toward the kitchen and make Alice wait, then sit before placing her dinner on the floor,
Solitude with friends. I gather a bundle of kindling and set about the fire. Newspaper is skillfully twisted in bow-ties, as my father taught me. Cardboard is carefully place and kindling is positioned. A single match sets it ablaze. The crackle and aroma fill the room. No words are forthcoming.
I set the music low, a cello solo that is so familiar it is wall-paper to my thoughts. Dinner preparations, a chilled glass of wine, I traverse a familiar routine that calms and carries me deeper into my head. Animals crowd around when I finally sit to watch the flames and eat. Do humans have a season of rut? Why do deer mate right before the harshest weather sets in? Both times I was pregnant it was winter. I didn’t live outside but it was still not easy to navigate life amid snow and ice.
I have a special stack of pine outside for burning when the coals are just right. It makes for a hot, fast fire. Sparks fly and the wood pops sending embers shooting from the grate. It is loud and demanding but a quick way to heat up the hearth. Amid the calliope of the fire, the phone intrudes with harsh demands. I look at the number. He is from the past, the distant past. He wants to know how I am, and commences to reminiscing about our time together; our adventures and foibles. What is not discussed is the reason our lives parted. Then he stops to take a breath. “Come with me and we’ll flee North, we’ll leave civilization behind and live simply. I never should have let you go. Marry me and leave this all behind.”
This? This is what I am, who I am, what I have built. Leave and pursue your dream of nirvana? I stop and brush aside the feeling of warmth, of being wanted – needed perhaps. Ah, it is the being needed to complete his vision of happiness that is a thorn. Wait while I digest this fact.
There is no mate in my world at the moment, but that doesn’t worry me. Let the deer and the moose have their season.
Mount Monadnock – The Mountain That Stands Alone..