Holiday Letter, From One Dog to Another
Dear Meg, Benedictions:
I hope you have stopped sweating. That is the last image I have of you, sweating under the oak tree.
It seems I can hardly now remember our summer together in south Texas, or sweating, or running through green grass and the smells of open earth. That is what I think of, when I think of you. That, and our glorious afternoon of stolen Cheetos.
Winter has arrived here in full force. It's beautiful, and it's cold, but it's dead, man, it's all dead. Nothing makes noise but the cracking of iced branches and the creaks of the roofboard overhead in this old house, and the only smell is the blue static electricity of fresh, cold snow.
Sometimes, I don't know man, sometimes I'd just as soon lay on the floor and not even bother with this dog business. Just cease to be a dog for awhile, stand up on my two crazy feet and walk away. I still have a lot to learn about my own simple life, I guess.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to summertime in Texas with you, and everyone else, and just lay on our backs looking up at the huge oaks, listening to Carol sing in the kitchen and the old country songs the cats like to hum, passing the bottle back and forth, the daily grind of the air conditioner, waiting for the Cadillac to pull up the long dirt driveway.
One such journey I was in the Utah desert and fell asleep at dusk. When I dreamed it was that I was chasing a whole herd of elk, my breath bouncing steam in the morning cold. When I woke up, I could have sworn that the light of the moon had shaken me gently, pushed my whiskers aside. I am haunted by visions and episodes of which not even I am sure.
I have lived in this world long enough to come to terms with life, my own and others and death - who ever it may be - and the deep scent of objects both alive and dead. The world is big and life is funny, but it's not that big, and it's not that funny.
And Meg, what about the smell of St. Augustine, magnolias and live oak?
When can I compare the work of dogs to that of giants? I can not ask men who you are, what you are saying. Sometimes, when I get walked to the park, it seems as though Tooele is a snake snorting through 18,000 nostrils. What are dogs, truly? Are we not men?
I have spent much of my life hating Christmas - was the way I was brought up, likely. Then, last week, I was walked past church just let out and for a moment was surrounded by Christmas decorations and sights and smells and I realized I probably do like Christmas: Pies, silly songs, blinking lights, endless radio advertisements for jewelry and little girls on their way to church in clickety black shoes, thin frilly dresses, too young lipstick, tentative curls and their best behavior. I think I am already sorry I spent so much time hating Christmas. Besides, isn't the day after Christmas the brightest of the year? For anyone to speak otherwise would only reflect the paucity of their own imagination.
I think I have forgotten - wait, let me explain this in a way that you Labradors will understand. It has been son long since I felt normal that I think I have forgotten, just a little, what life must be like. Sometimes I bite my foot to make sure I am alive, or at least not dead. There are moments when time appears to be slow in passing like a swallow building a nest in the eaves.
These are days, truly.
There are days now when I could run about a million miles. And there are days I can't even get off the foot of the bed in the morning. Sometimes there's an empty cave inside me, and I'm thinking back to Texas, and the kerchillions of bugs, a few stars. Sometimes there's a heavy hand on my heart, and I realize it's Utah, and winter.
Remember, Meg, our motto: Ride the lightning!
Feliz Navidad, baby. Feliz Navidad.
Good question. Last we heard, he was dropping off a 10,000-foot ridge in a millennial full moon, chasing shadows and deep snow. Porter stepped in, grudgingly, to share this letter. Jeff will be back soon.
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