Sunday, March 15, 2015

an escape through irretrievable time with a dog who always looks as if he has an appointment down the street

Lately, Josie has coerced me into lifting him up so he can see over the brick wall behind the house. The wall separates us from the barranca, a concrete canal leading out to the harbor and thus the ocean. Hoisting Josie to my shoulder to see over the wall has been going on for several days now, and how it got started, I don’t know. It reminds me of that thing with Buster and his truffle rug, which I thought I had written about long ago, but I can’t find it, so I’ll let you wonder. Sometimes you just know what your dog wants and one day you find you are doing your dog’s bidding.

One morning: High tide, so murky, olive green water in the canal, but it is still, not sluicing in or out as it often does. A pair of mallards heads inland, skimming just above the water. On the other side is the back fence of a backyard and two men are coming and going from the yard, about to start on some project, I think. Two houses down men are tiling a roof. It looks complete except for a few feet in the middle along the ridgeline. Above us on the electrical wires are three doves, or pigeons, but I think doves of some sort. A heron flies by, some distance away in the neighborhood across from us, heading toward the sea. The air is cool and fresh, the sky clear, a few wispy clouds. A slight murmur drifts over from the workers on the roof, a soft Spanish hum. Josie is calm, watchful, ears cocked, nose up.

We will be leaving here soon, and a bit of melancholy sets in. How we will miss this afternoon walk to the vacant lot! I wonder how this scrappy old field became such a beloved place, winning out over the beach, the ocean. How did that happen?

We course through the neighborhood, the mobile home park, to get to the lot just as quickly as Josie can drag me along. Ahead is a neighbor watering plants. She sees us, shuts off the hose, watches as we approach. She says: “Your dog always looks as if he has an appointment down the street.”

“He does!” I cry, as we sail by. “He must, we must, get to the vacant lot!”

Exactly when this cement post decorated with two small mosaics rooted itself here in the vacant lot, I do not know. Suddenly, one day, it was here. Perhaps the post already was here, now it is just that someone is decorating it.

A slow week and I should be working, planning ahead, stocking up, but I dawdle. I read, I write a bit, I plan a bit, I work a bit, I dream a bit. I dread a bit, I fuss a bit. But just a bit. The days are sunny and warm and the nights are cool, full of moon. One day I visit my mother. We sit in a courtyard by a koi pond with three little fountains of burbling water. Nearby is an immense magnolia tree. Josie cops a little shade under my mother’s wheelchair. She and I sit in the sun and comment over and over again on its wonderful warmth. I relax; I am relaxed. My mother says she could fall asleep.

How did tempus fugit come up?

Tempus fugit,” my mother says. “It’s Latin for time … ”  and then there is a long pause.

“Flees,” she says. “Tempus fugit, time flees.”

After a bit, I say, “Time flies.”

“Oh, yes. That’s it,” she says. “Time flies.”

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