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Outside, revisited

It has rained nonstop since Mom got a bum sewn into her knee. Or, I think it’s rained nonstop anyway. It’s not like we’ve been out much to check. But it seems like every time I go to the bathroom or look out the window it’s either raining, looks like it wants to rain, or everything is wet because it just stopped raining. A lot of times all three things are happening at once. Don’t ask me how it can be raining when it also just finished raining, but trust me, it can.

This weekend it finally rained itself out, and the sun has come back to town. Just in the nick of time, too, because the cloud sickness always makes Mom feel like doom, and I would rather pee on the carpet than outside in the rain. The Covered Wagon, has been sitting out in the rain that whole time, patiently waiting for the bum in Mom’s knee to get better so that we can take it out for an adventure. Mom was starting to feel a little adventurous now that she was back on two legs and a few days of sun had shined the doom out from behind her thoughts. So we took the Covered Wagon to work so that we could have a teensy-weensy adventure in the morning. After work we found a dark, quiet spot along the coast to sleep, and Mom tucked me under my special adventure blanket. Then we let the howling wind rock us into the deep sleep that we only have in the van where chores don’t know where to find us.


It was the deep dark when we started climbing the sandy trail in the morning. Not even the moon was looking, so my spotlight on Mom’s head was the only way to see things. I left my leash with Mom so that I could run ahead of the light and see all the stars without the moon there to hog the sky. The trail was still sweating off the month of rain in streams that dug a tiny canyon down the middle of the trail. Sometimes the old rain pooled into big patches of mud that I leapt over and Mom had to tip-toe through. Hundreds of bunnies live in the bushes along this trail, but I couldn’t find their bunny highways because all the smells from last year had been washed away in the rain. Every once in awhile I found a spot where a bunny had passed not long ago. If I was lucky, I could track it all the way back to the bush where the bunny lived and poke my snout in his hole and say, “Hullo, Rabbit! Are you home?!”


The higher we got on the mountain, the more we could see the sun climbing over the other side to meet us. By the time we turned around, we didn’t need my spotlight to see anymore, an we could see the fluffy grey mountain spread out below us all the way down to where it tripped on the road and fell the last few dozen feet into the ferocious ocean.


Walking down the hill, we went even slower than we had on the way up because the bum in Mom’s knee complains the most when she walks down hills and stairs. She has to walk very slowly, and be careful where she puts her feet so that she won’t slip and fall. She knew she had to stay careful, but The Witch that Lives in Her Phone set a trap for her. She was high up above me on a spot where the trail fell steeply down the hill. Because I was more than a few feet away, Mom was hit by a sudden and irresistible loneliness. Even though she knew it was dangerous, she simply had to look at her phone to see if anything interesting had happened in the last few seconds. The Witch hadn’t even had time to recognize her face and show her that no one cared to talk to her, when suddenly her good leg slipped out from under her and down the hill in front of her. She couldn’t jump onto her bum leg to catch her balance, nor could she even dig her bum leg in and use it as an emergency brake to self arrest. Instead, she just slid like a slow motion baseball player and tried to get the bum in her leg out of the way of where her original butt was going to land.


“Oh dog doo,” she said, carefully standing up and brushing the sand off of her hands and pants. “I probably shouldn’t have done that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Is the bum in your knee made of something delicate, like egg shells?” “Well, no. I think that ligaments and stuff are pretty thick.” “But it could rip really easily, toilet paper in the rain? Or maybe it’s held down with something really weak like masking tape?” “Well, I don’t really think it works that way either. I mean, the physical therapist told me yesterday that I should be pinching and stretching the incision scars so that they don’t build up too much scar tissue. It’s not like the skin can just rip back open now that it’s healed. I think that’s what physical therapy does for your insides too. You need to squeeze and poke and stretch things so that they’ll work right.” “Does it hurt?” “No, not really.” “Can you walk on it?” “Yeah.” “Then what’s the problem?” I said. “Let’s go to work where there are real doctors that you can ask.”


I didn’t think that I was very tired. Only a wimp would be tired after such a short and slow walk. But when I got to work, I didn’t have so many barks trapped inside me that needed to get out. I was okay with letting my collies walk downstairs to the kitchen without an escort, and only asked them to taste their snacks when they brought them up the stairs to eat at their desks. And every time I got into my bed, the naps just overtook me. I only woke up when Mom summoned me to go to a meeting, or when someone in the office started snoring. It was the most relaxed I’ve felt in a very long time.

Oscar the Pooch

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