Undertow

I got up early this morning and went to a business breakfast. It was dark and there was frost on the windshield. I was underdressed and couldn’t get heat into the car fast enough. I knew the guest speaker and though he didn’t need it, went in part to support him in a new role. It’s also good for me to get out to these things. I guess. There were a lot of people I hadn’t seen for a long time but the seating didn’t offer much chance for conversation so we just exchanged smiles and polite waves. The presentation ended, a back door opened and I left.

A couple of nights ago I dreamed that I fell from the top of a building onto a vast public wharf. The kind where large vessels like cargo or cruise ships land. I fell near the edge of a small crowd who had gathered as witnesses. I died when I hit the concrete, then slowly got up, surprised by the fact.

It was like I had just tripped and fallen down, picked myself up and adjusted my tie. But I was dead. This was acknowledged by the dispersing crowd who could no longer see me but knew what they knew. Nothing seemed to change, except I became invisible. And felt a mission and vague awareness of a power that could only be compared to an undertow. After a time I saw another fellow get up from the edge of a small dispersing crowd. We looked at one another knowing there was work to do. I wondered if he knew what it might be.

 

On the Dam

 

October 21. It was windy. We met three duck hunters on the dam. A pair heading to their screen and another with an angry Black Lab who I didn’t see until we were almost on top of them. Mira! She slammed on the brakes and waited to have the leash clipped on. The snarling dog’s owner said something I couldn’t quite hear. He videotaped us as we walked back 20 minutes later. This could have been freaky but wasn’t. I thought he was watching us with binoculars or maybe even through the scope of a rifle. Neither of us acknowledged the camera as he put it away. He was apologetic and unhappy about his dog’s unfriendliness with other dogs. Mira all the while appearing smartly trained and comfortably indifferent. His dog could go in the playpen with babies and romp with toddlers apparently. Just didn’t like other dogs. He was sorry about that. What could he do? I suggested a bit of socialization might help. The beach on a busy day? Also that maybe his dog was just watching out for him. Female Black Labs are very territorial I said, because I once knew one who was. I think he was going to show the video to his dog later. But maybe not.

 

Another of the hunters came out from behind the blind as we approached. Smiling and ready for a chat. His friend remained seated. Unsmiling. Focused. Shotgun across his lap. Not a good year for ducks. Nice dog. I’m too old for a dog now. How old? 79. You’re kidding! Nope, really. I can only assume that his was the truck with scrap metal in the back and the bumper sticker “Over the hill and proud of it.” I told him I thought the ducks had already come and gone. We had more geese flying over this year than I’d ever seen before. Lots of Black Ducks too. But early. Real early. Sounded like I knew about ducks and their ways. And how to train dogs too. I felt like a young fella. But I’m not.