I’ve been gone — but not forgotten I hope. And look at when I choose to reappear. A Sunday. Old habits die hard. But if ever I needed a reminder that I did the right thing by slowing down and taking a break, it’s blooming all around town. These are the lazy days and warm, humid nights when a heady, intoxicating fragrance invites you to sit down with a cool drink in your hand. It’s time to stop and smell the jasmine.
What have I been up to, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. A whole lot of nothing, I guess. I feel like Frankie on his walks now, sprawling out to cool his belly in a nice shady patch of grass. He sniffs the gentle breeze and looks up at me as if to say, “What? It’s hot!” There isn’t a thing he’d rather be doing and he’s got all the time in the world to make it around the block.
Let’s see, I’ve finished reading one novel and started another. That’s something. I wrote a piece for my writing group. And I’ve been able to compose a long letter to my grandma, proving it’s not a completely one-sided correspondence. Other than that, I’ve sat on my front deck under the shade of an awning and a giant oak with my supplies (wine, cheese and crackers) and watched the world go by. Hey — it’s the start of summer. It’s called a summer break, remember? And no, I’m not in school anymore, but still.
I’ve even managed to crawl in the pool now that it’s warming up. I say crawl, but really it’s more like a scoot. I bump down the stairs because our pool lift is broken and in the process of being repaired. But ever since “the incident,” when anyone heads into the pool, Frankie disappears into the air-conditioned house.
“It” happened last year. Frankie was innocently hanging out by the pool, trying to impress us with his tricks and earn a treat. My mom was asking him to ‘dance,’ which in theory involves standing on his hind legs while making little hops in a circle. Frankie hasn’t exactly mastered the command, but continues to try in earnest, performing all his tricks at once, morphing them into one desperate-to-please attempt I prefer to call his ‘breakdancing.’ He jumps high into the air, sits and raises a paw to shake, spins, then throws himself down to roll over — all with lightning quick speed. He tries it all repeatedly to see which magic combination might release the sacred morsel from the outstretched hand.
He was hard at work during one of these breakdancing sessions and by the edge of the pool when it happened. He was springing high into the air, while my mother moved her hand above his head. As she began to move her closed fist in a wide circle, Frankie leapt up, out and over the pool and, his eyes on the treat the entire time, came down into the water with a soft ker-plunk and a little splash. When he bobbed back to the surface and immediately began doggy paddling, panic ensued. He’d never been in the pool before. And his eyes, wide with fear, conveyed the fact that he didn’t really care for it. I was speechless and motionless. Meanwwhile, my mother let out little “Oh – oh – oh’s” as if trying to remind herself to stay calm while facing the giant reality that she was the only one that could save the day. She cautiously lowered herself to the side of the pool, trying not to fall in herself, and grabbed for Frankie’s harness as he clawed at the side of the pool.
When she hoisted him out, soaked to the bone and looking half his size, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I started laughing hysterically. Frankie began shaking off and rolling on the concrete, looking thrilled. He set about drying off in that happy way dogs have after they’ve just survived that horribly unjust and grueling treatment — the bath. They detest it while it’s happening, but rejoice, misery forgotten, when it’s over. And they feel great.
My laughter just increased Frankie’s excitement and antics. My mother, on the other hand (who had motioned him into the pool in the first place, after all), remained guilt-stricken and traumatized. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!” she kept repeating to Frankie, who refused to be brought down. He kept trotting around, shaking off. “Stop laughing! That was horrible!” she said to me. I now replayed the scene in my mind and kept laughing. In fact, now I was snorting.
“He’s happy! Look at him,” I said. Frankie was on his back, twisting from side to side.
My mother has never fully recovered. She’s careful to only ask him to ‘dance’ inside the house. Though, Frankie does head in the minute we don bathing suits. Me? I can still dissolve into fresh giggles at just the memory of the event.
This morning, I noticed the jasmine is already fading and not as vibrant as when I took the picture for this post. Just another reminder that things are always changing. So, this summer, let the jasmine remind you to slow down and savor life. It’s short. Let me remind you to keep replaying the scenes that make you laugh. And let Frankie remind you to forget being drenched and remember the drying off part instead.