Today was a monochrome day, the same from morning to evening with the sun never breaking through the heavy layer of gray. It was an unscheduled day that meandered around reading and writing and chores. It’s 9:45 pm as I write this and there is only a hint of light in the sky. I can tell that the bay is perfectly calm by looking at the still, orange reflections of the Homer Spit lights in the water. Night is back again, giving us permission to finally slow down.
Our dog Nayak died unexpectedly earlier this week. She was getting old, her back legs were losing their muscle tone and she was beginning to go deaf. Despite her signs of aging though, she still got beside herself with excitement when it was time for a walk and she still held her own when romping around the yard with Ripple, our younger dog. She was fine when we left the house on Tuesday morning and gone when I came home at the end of the day. The house feels a little hollow without her. She was notorious for being nearby her people, but never too close. She had one of the easiest temperaments of any dog I’ve known; she even left this world in the easiest manner possible. We didn’t have to watch a long, slow decline. We didn’t have to make any difficult decisions.
She came to us shortly after we moved into this house and lived her entire life here. A lot about this place has changed in that amount of time. The young trees in front of our house that survived the spruce bark beetles have grown so tall that they are beginning to obstruct the view from our front window. The greenhouse, once highly functional and the source of beautiful tomatoes and even a cantaloupe or two has been blown by a few too many windstorms and is now in a sorry state of disrepair. Our kids, who used to think we lived in the coolest neighborhood on earth, now wish we lived in town, with a regular house on a regular street. And our nearest neighbors, who used to be out working their property every day (except the Sabbath), are not getting around as well as they used to.
I keep thinking of the title of a memoir at the library that I’ve shelved many times but still haven’t read. It’s called A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. It makes me think about the dogs we’ve had and lost, each one representing a certain phase of our lives. Nayak was with us during the raising a family era. She was with us in this place, on five acres of land thirteen miles east of Homer. She was with us in this house with its green carpet and funky linoleum.
Sometimes we talk about moving to town. Sometimes we want to leave Alaska and head down south. For today though, I was glad to be here. It was a good day to take it easy. It was a good day to wander around and let the memories of this place, this era, take me where they wanted to go.