Sunday, August 12, 2007

things i can almost see

early in the morning, watching my son yawn sleepily at the table, i can almost see the very young boy he once was.

back then he was kinda round, with blond hair that stuck up in every direction and a smile that melted hearts. he was guileless and carefree, with an endearingly close orbit around me and his mom. he also had a hint of an independent streak, which was only slightly worrisome. surely he would always be this boy, and life would always be so good.

today the boy is getting tall. he's skinny, like his uncle was at the same age, and like his uncle, the independent streak is strong. it will probably serve him well, one day. down the road. i can almost see that. until then, i see a boy who has to do things his own way, no matter the cost. it's now slightly more worrisome.

our back yard has changed dramatically in the last six months. gone is the grass and half a foot of topsoil, taken up by the shovelful and hauled off one wheelbarrow at a time. there is a verdant array of trees and plants in this small area, linked by an expanse of two-foot pavers. at about 60 pounds apiece, the pavers are unwieldy; they nestle heavily into the fine gravel hauled in, dumped and wheelbarrow at a time.

i can almost see the haven this little oasis will become. it'll be cool and quiet, hidden from the outside world by a delicate lace of greenery. in summer, a bamboo shade on our pergola will provide all the cover we'll need from the sun settling behind the olympic mountains. in fall, a propane patio heater will let us extend summer's warmth just a bit longer, before the rains come.

my dogs spent lazy, languid days back here. i can almost see them now, curled up in a shady spot near the deck. they would've liked this purlieus, i think, had they the luxury of just a bit more time. it would've been nice to share it with them, for a little while.

even now, their collars and leashes hang patiently on the garage wall. their familiar, big-dog scents still linger on the faded canvas, filling the moment with warm memories.

but things happen and time passes. it's now a year that they've been gone, and many changes have come in the interim. as easy as it is for me to revisit the end of their time with us, i think it would be healthy if i did something forward-looking instead.

the boy and a new dog now roughhouse in the front yard. he smiles and laughs, feints and dodges, as she gives chase on little-dog legs. time does strange things as i watch them through the kitchen window, flashing forward and back, stitching together something important and intangible. surely he will always be this boy, and life will always be so good.

and now i recognize the loose end untied in my heart. it's a ritual i've put off for a year, and it's time to take care of it. today, amid the work and the change and swirling of time, i'll add my dogs' ashes to the haven we're creating out back. there they'll be in a well-loved place, and underfoot. as always.

it's merely symbolism, but sometimes symbolism is important. and necessary. and healing.

this feels like one of those times.

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