The sun streams down casting late afternoon shadows on the snow. The color of the sky is a cross between blue and grey. It has that late afternoon feel to it. In winter a restlessness comes over me this time of day. The sun is leaving and in its place is the cold and darkness that signifies dreariness to me. I could sleep or I could do a useful task such as laundry or dishes to keep me from the midwinter blues I always seem to get this time of year. But instead I sit in a quiet house, the family having gone on an antique hunt to a nearby town. I sit deciding to write but find myself drawn to looking out at the winter day and that feeling of stillness as if everyone were doing the same thing. There is no movement of cars in the street, no neighbors out shoveling the new fallen snow. Just a cold white silence.
I look down at the floor and watch him sleep. I swore I wouldn’t like him. Little white dog, with bulging black eyes. Matted stained hair around his eyes and a high-pitched yap of a bark that hurt my ears. I told my daughter no, when she asked repeatedly for a little lap dog. We already have a beagle who she begged for and promised to take care of. He’s my dog now. I feed and take care of him. No, I didn’t want another dog to take care of, I told her.
She walked in one day announcing, “I’m going to take care of Emma’s dog while they are out-of-town. I promise I will do everything.” I knew that was not going to happen and said no again. The next day she walked in with a little white bundle. When she saw the look on my face she said “Dad said it was okay. It’s only for two weeks.”
That was a month ago and before the owners mysteriously left town, saying they didn’t want to keep him. In the beginning I tried to harden my heart, I wouldn’t hold him or let him up on the couch. I cordoned him off in the kitchen since he didn’t seem to understand the concept of going outside to go potty. Then one day I heard him crying and brought him in the living room where I was studying for finals. I picked him up to stop him from scratching at my leg. As he sat in my lap and I worked on my school work, a calm came over me as I stroked his white fluffy hair. He was so soft and warm like a teddy bear.
He is now a member of the family and has been allowed up on the couch at times. He is so still when he sleeps I find myself nudging him to convince myself he is still breathing.
My little dust mop has been a good diversion for me. After the holidays and in the dead of winter when the cold and dark seem to be never ending, I need diversions. I end up taking him out often enough so that I can catch him being good. When I do he usually finds a big dog to lunge at having surely made up his mind he is the same size as his adversary.
My daughter comes home from work and smiles at me as she picks up Max, hugging him. “Thanks Mom, I love you,” she says. This coming from the daughter who fought me and who I fought for all through her years of struggles, almost losing her to the darkness and shadows of despair.
She comes over and sits down next to me with Max the white dog and Honey the beagle. The three of them looking at me.
How nice to have company on such a cold and grey day, I think. We all cuddle on the couch and I look out at the shadows growing, noting a tinge of pink in the sky and I smile. I’m not so sure who rescued who.
After all it’s just another……