A few weeks ago, while I was oohing and aahing over tiny pink outfits at my daughter’s baby shower in Rochester, my husband Eric was home with no company other than that of our big old mutt Jeffrey.
Every parent knows that sometimes being home by yourself can be considered quite a luxury at first, but after a while it feels a bit lonely. Especially since he and I have been like ships passing in the night for the last couple weeks. Between work and work and more work, we haven’t had much of a chance to hang out. We figured that after sending our youngest kid off to vo-tech in the fall we’d spend so much time together that we’d get sick of each other, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way.
So, Eric had to go into work the Saturday of the baby shower, and I had left the night before. He got home in the early afternoon and decided to rake some leaves.
Leaf raking is something Eric takes quite seriously. We have quite a few big maple trees, and as our dear old neighbor Lawrence used to say, they make a lot of deposits. He rakes the yard a few times each fall, just in case that big old first snow is right around the corner. A blanket of snow is not supposed to be on a blanket of leaves in Eric’s world, because that would rip a hole in the time space continuum or something equally as dire.
When the kids were little, leaf raking was a bit of an adventure. We’d ask for their help, but it was generally a slow process. Short arms, long rakes and tempting piles of leaves do not make the chore a quick one. Eric always tried to keep the kids on task, but how can you not smile when three little kids are hog-piling on each other in a big pile of leaves? By the time they were done rolling around, the leaves were more like leaf crumbs, and it would have been easier to vacuum them up than rake them.
So, Eric was out raking a few weeks ago (that is where I was going with this, right?) and there wasn’t a kid hog-pile in sight, which made him a bit sad. He was having an “I miss my kids” moment when he heard a thundering gallop from behind and Jeffrey flung himself right into the middle of a pile of leaves, rolling around with glee and sending the tidy pile scattering.
Eric said he just laughed, and started working on another pile across the yard. Each time he got one pile finished, mighty mutt would come romping across the yard to jump in the middle, tossing leaves everywhere. Not many people know this, but Jeff likes to throw things, and can be amazingly accurate with a tennis ball or stuffed toy. Leaves don’t throw nearly as well, but that didn’t stop him.
Eric finished with the last pile and started cleaning up the first one that had been scattered and putting the leaves in a trailer to haul to the dump site. Jeffrey never launched himself into the last pile, instead choosing to step into the middle of it, do the three-times-around doggie spin and settle in for a nap. Wallowing in leaves is exhausting, apparently.
I remember seeing Jeffrey romp in the leaves with kids when he was younger, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play in a pile by himself. It makes me wonder what went through his mind right before he bailed into the first mound of leaves. Maybe he sensed that his master (I use that term loosely) was a little sad and wanted to cheer him up. Maybe, even though he seems to have the memory of a goldfish, he suddenly had a flashback to rolling around with his kids and just jumped in, waiting for them to appear.
Or maybe he’s just a big old galumph of a dog with a tiny little brain and questionable thought processes, and he wanted to have some fun.
Either way, Eric found himself once again trying to rake up leaf crumbs and smiling while Jeff snoozed in a fresh pile of crispy fall foliage. Good boy, Jeffrey.