Something about hanging baskets are poignant, especially in the Fall. Everyone has a different season, mine is beginning. There is something deeply satisfying about having hay in the barn, wood piled up near the shed, a transition time. I’ve been sick all day, up and down, I imagine it’s stomach thing, perhaps food poisoning or a stomach virus. I think I will be feeling better shortly, sometimes the body tells you when to rest.
In the three years I’ve lived on this farm, I’ve never once sat in the rocking chair by the back porch. The barn cats have taken over this space, made it their thrones. Flo in particular rules from there, glowering at the dogs and daring them to come near, soaking up the sun, watching us come and go in her regal way. She is a long way from the woodshed where she hid for so long before she revealed herself to me, and seduced me. Now she sits in my chair.
In our lives with Fate, I have never seen her lie still in the daytime for more than five or ten minutes, and then, only if she is chewing something or tossing it in the air. Last night, I got sick, I couldn’t sleep at all, I was exhausted this morning and decided to stay in bed, something I have only done a few times in my life
Maria took the dogs out, Fate came rushing into the house, looking for me. She found me, leaping onto the bed in a wriggling head and sniffing and licking me in confusion, perhaps concern. I told her to lie down, expecting little and she curled up next to me, closed her eyes and went to sleep.
She didn’t move for an hour, the longest I have ever seen her be quiet like that. She slept most of the time, raising her head or her ears when she heard something strange. She knows, I thought, she understands something is different about me, she didn’t jump on me or try and chew on me or otherwise provoke some mischief, as she normally does. I don’t imagine dogs literally know when we are sick – I doubt, since they have no words, that they could know what sickness literally is. I imagine their instincts tell them something is off in our bodies, and they sense what it is we need from them, sitting with us becomes our work.
I thought it was a coming of age for Fate, another sign that she will be a great dog for us. I got up to watch Pope Francis speaking at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, I thought back to that day, as so many people do, and remembered that I lived in Northern New Jersey then. I remember the children in our neighborhood, rushing to the train station to wait in great fear for their mothers and fathers, some of whom never came home.
The ceremony left me with a heavy heart, and I felt weak and tired. I need to go back and rest. We’ll see how many dogs join me.