The slopes of Mt. Shasta soared distinctively above us. No one had let the mountain know that it was September, and long exclamation points of snow marked the only slopes in sight not crowded with pines.
I was visiting a man from my brother’s longtime men’s group. We went into his beautiful back yard, and I oohed over fat red tomatoes in Shasta, CA, and green herbs growing in wild abundance.
Night fell and Thai food was calling. Zeus seemed content to be in the back yard, other than his incipient “pleathe don’t akthidentally leave me behind again for 4 monthth like you did latht time.” (Zeus has a small speech impediment caused by Purple Tongue Syndrome.)
Their fences were about 5 feet tall, all seemed well.
The Thai place was small and homey and the lovely Thai lady that ran it was apologetic about making us wait because their tiny kitchen was beset by a to-go order for 18 people. That’ll do it. We made up for it by ordering delicious wine and beer to pass the time. I am Irish after all.
In the warm dark below the mountain, with the moon running quietly through the clouds, we got back to Isaac & Amy’s cute little house. The cat was hiding, and in the soft burr of the back yard hot tub, there was no large russet dog.
The sinking feeling is the same. Finding your car window broken, finding your front door unlocked, discovering the stereo cabinet empty. Finding a stranger waiting on your porch. Seeing the red/white flash and hearing the blare of the police car suddenly accelerating in your rearview.
We checked the yard. The slightly shorter side fence had marks of a dog climbing over.
We checked the side yard, and Isaac’s younger ears picked up a sound.
Was he in the neighbor’s yard with their dogs? Was he in the much larger rear-neighbor’s yard?
Out in the front, his ears slicked back, panting and whining, he was there.
In the back of my truck. On his bed. He grinned like a six-year-old caught with the M&M jar. He seemed to be saying, “Thee, I wath jutht trying to make sure that it wath eathy to leave when you got back. Tho, um… are there leftoverth?”
I hope to hold onto such a sense of belonging, to escape estranged confinement to follow the calling of my life.