Monday, February 7, 2011

a beautiful thing

I know what it is now. I stood outside in the rain tonight long enough to know it wasn't a miracle or a wonder or something beyond explanation. I can explain it.

And, it was a beautiful thing.

End of the evening stuff. I was out on the porch noticing that it was raining and our dog hates rain and I knew a walk down the street to the parking lot of the Congregational Church wouldn't be a good idea. And then I saw it.

At first I didn't believe what I was seeing. It couldn't be there, not there, and not the way it was. But it didn't go away and I watched it long enough to get myself rather wet.

I went inside to get the dog and make him go out back. We've kept digging away at the snow to make him a labyrinth of a run in the back yard--not near enough to any of the fences, almost topped by snow, that he might decide to jump the fence and make a run for it.

I wrote a poem once about him maybe running away. If I can find it, I'll put it at the end of this thing about the beautiful thing.

I watched the beautiful thing while he went out to do the business he needed to do. We went in and I gave him a treat and started up the back steps. But I passed Luke's litter box and turned on a light to check. Yep, it needed some cleaning. So I scooped and poured into a Stop and Shop plastic bag and took Luke's 'business' out to put in the trash can on the back porch. And the beautiful thing was still there.

Here's what it looked like: a sliver of golden light hanging in the air between two big evergreens, about 3 feet off the ground. And it was beautiful, reflecting off the snow--a golden sliver in a darkened, white world.

I know it was just an icicle hanging off a limb of a sapling, reflecting light from one of those golden street lights over a hundred yards away, down on Route 10. And I stared it some more, simply appreciating how mysterious (though explainable) that little sliver of light was to me.

Beautiful. A beautiful thing. Between dog's waste and cat's waste, in the rain on a cold winter's night---something to stand in the rain and ponder and marvel about....

(I couldn't find the poem I was looking for just now, but here's another winter poem about our dog)

The Difference Between a Puli and a Man

It is just about 3 degrees Fahrenheit
according to the thermometer on my back porch.
And the wind is blowing, O, I'd say,
about 15 miles an hour.
The ice has iced over a couple of times
and everything wood and metal creaks
from the cold.

Puli dogs were built for weather like this.
When Attila left the steppes of Mongolia
to cross the known world,
conquering everything in his path
(raping and pillaging along the way)
he already had dogs
that had survived cold that killed horses,
camels, oxen and men.

Hungary, in the deepest winter of those years
we think of as long, long, long ago,
was like moving from Connecticut to Florida
for the Hun's dogs.
Their tangled, cording hair--black as midnight,
or 2 a.m.--kept them warm,
made them think Budapest was tropical
compared to the gales in winter
off the steppes.

That is the difference between a Puli dog,
like mine,
and an aging white man like me.
In the back yard, he runs in circles,
pausing only to eat ice and snow,
guarding sheep that are not there
from wolves that don't exist.
He finds a mound of ice
and splays himself on it,
feeling the genetic connection,
the DNA link, the marrow deep instinct of his breeding.
Then he grabs a stick and runs to the edge of the yard,
stopping to bark at me to come chase him.

And I, wrapped in clothes that will take five minutes
to rid myself of back inside,
call to him to return
to what aging, white men love:
central heat, fireplaces, hot coffee.

Eventually, he will return--even if that means
I have to go and get him,
playing 'catch me if you can'
all the way back to the porch.
But he could fall asleep, nestled in ice and snow,
while I would simply die of hypothermia.

That, if nothing else (and there is much else indeed!)
distinguishes me from my Puli...
Or, more accurately,
distinguishes the Puli
from his man.

jgb 2/5/07

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.