I am on the side deck sitting crossed-legged, absorbing the sun's warmth, and like a lizard, hoarding it for later when the snow returns. The small dog is all nose, face pressed into the ground, an olfactory detective. The old dog barks her warning at cyclists speeding past the house, crouched over their bikes like jockeys. A pheasant's protests grates like a car engine refusing to turn over. Four crows pitch and change lanes in the air inches above the barren apple trees. A slight breeze stirs the wind chimes and the hollow sound of bamboo knocking together joins with ceramic discs and metal tubes chiming the last days of winter goodbye. The small dog is curled into my hand scratching his flank.
I am angry and relieved, back from a ten-minute dog hunt after the small dog broke from his leash and pursued a cyclist. I returned home to find him panting, full of burs, and utterly pleased with himself, the leash trailing behind him. Now he is back to barking at cyclists and joggers, looking back to me with a kind of plea in his voice for release. I allow myself to feel the almost loss of him, imagine what I would have done if I had found him on the busy road. Sometimes I think love for a tiny being is almost too much for a human heart. I hear, but cannot see the plane passing overhead. A bird is singing, staking it's claim on territory. The old dog thrusts his head under my phone for her ear scratches. A toy-sized plane buzzes noisily to the west and I realize it's been months since jets from the nearby base have filled the sky with their intense daily punk rock screams. Soon buds will appear on the branches of the neighbor's pear, peach and apple trees.