Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: On a comfortable, loving path

December 10, 2003

On a clear winter night, the full moon shines on snow intensely.

It is no hesitant light that quibbles over the difference between light and shadows. It is an outright burst of light, streaming down from the sky.

With the combination of moonlight cast upon snow, the light is nearly bright enough to take a picture without a flash. Rodents seeking safety from predators might be wise to hedge close to trees and fence rows on nights such as this, when the slightest shadow would draw the attention of owls or foxes on the hunt.

Snowfall makes it apparent that the woods that surround our house are laced with distinct pathways. Our two yard dogs, both small yappers, have the run of the place, and generally include in their daily rounds some five or six acres they claim as their own.

I thought it surprising when the first snow fell on a recent year and the dogs' pathways so clearly appeared as long ribbons of indentations in the snow.

With all that space to roam, all the trees to meander through in the woods, it seemed strange that the dogs evidently have established their own paths, and rigidly follow them. That must be the result, I thought, no offense intended to the canine species, of possessing the more limited intellectual capacity of a dog.

Of course I thought that while on my early morning trek, 6:30 a.m. to be precise, down the lane to where the morning newspapers await in the two blue boxes beside the road. On the way back, as usual, I pick up my white cat, Ghost, scratch him on the head and carry him toward the house.

Then back inside, coffee awaits -- just the right amount of cream in the bottom of the cup -- the blue cup, the one without the chip on the left hand side of the shelf -- and the coffee. Folgers. Columbian. Brewed with two scoops' coffee to one carafe of water.

While I meander about the house, deciding which newspaper to read first, chatting with my husband, waking up our son, one of our dogs watches from the deck. His face plastered to every window he can reach, he follows my every move. When I go to the office, he's on the deck there. When I go from the kitchen to the living room, there he is at the window again, anticipating my movement through the house. I resign myself to the realization that, at least at this time of day, before the pup takes to the woods to chase the squirrels and foxes, we are his entertainment. We are his morning news show, his anchor-people, so to speak.

I think again about the limitations of the dogs. Thank goodness even in the country they stick pretty close to home. But I wonder why -- because they are unleashed, their world could be vastly larger than it is.

If many of us would stop to ponder our own lives, we would likely realize we too, tend to stay on the same trails day after day.

For me it's the comfortable morning routine, then a drive to work, and later in the day the drive back home and a pleasant evening with my family. Perhaps a trip or two to Lawrence or Kansas City during a week and that's about it.

Some might consider that mundane or boring.

But, like my husband, I have little desire to roam farther than that. Like our canine friends, we are content, in fact very happy, with our familiar routines and paths through our days.

And as my husband and I stood on the deck on a winter night, holding hands as we gazed at the snow-covered moonlit beauty of nature surrounding us, there was little wonder why.

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