Old dog early morning back yard
It’s before 6am and I let Amy the dog out into the back yard.
Everything is put away for the winter.
The patio table. Chairs. Grill. Fire pit.
Most of the leaves are raked, but there are always leaves left behind. Nature’s way of saying, “I win.”
The back yard will be just like this when I look on it for the last time.
Except then, I will think of everything that has been here:
Trampoline. Volleyball net. Swing set. Sandbox. Little swimming pool.
Little girls dancing, cartwheeling and cheerleading. Kicking soccer balls.
I’ll remember the few times they begrudgingly mowed the lawn.
Now it is barren. The old dog trots out into the twilight.
Amy, the 15-year-old schnoodle, has a relationship with this space, sniffing at the corners.
Barking at possum in the patch of woods beyond the bent but functional wire fence.
Chasing, never catching, squirrels.
Then there was the time she met the skunk, and my late night Googling taught me that a shot of hydrogen peroxide with dish soap is better than tomato soup.
And the time when a baby jaybird fell into the trampoline. When I tried to set the bird free, it’s mother dive bombed right into my head.
I backed off. Nature wins again.
Please, Amy, go relieve yourself in the yard and come back so I can sit in my chair, sip coffee and read a little before I no longer own the day.
But Amy takes her time.
Just as a watched pot never boils, the old dog won’t return if I stand guard at the door.
So I look away for a few moments, then look back, and the old dog is right there on the back door stoop, waiting to come back in.
Now I am in my chair with coffee and early-morning book.
The old dogs hobbles upstairs, nails on the hardwood steps that need refinishing, returning to the bedroom where she sleeps with my wife, in my old spot.
Mark Morelli is a New York Times Bestseller reader.