Saturday, November 10, 2012

Changing Times

The annual “Fall Back” with the clocks has come and gone, and one week into it, life is slightly altered. On the bright side, I no longer need to slap the crap out of the snooze button every nine minutes for nearly an hour before dragging myself out of bed. It’s already getting light outside at the new 6:00 that used to be 7:00, and I am able to leap out of bed like Baryshnikov at the first bleat of the clock. In my mind, it's like that anyway. It's not an actual leap, but I'm pretty sure I at least stumble out of bed with a modicum of grace.

There is plenty of time to get dressed, sometimes multiple times, depending upon how the wardrobe choices and weight are matching up. There is plenty of time to feed, water and walk the dogs without feeling like we are running sprints. And bonus -- I’ve been able to drive to work without screaming at too many other drivers and still arriving early every day for a week. It’s great!

Well, it’s great until 5:00 rolls around, and I’m leaving work in darkness that feels like the middle of the night. That part is horrid. Thank goodness for my thrift store living room floor lamp plugged into my IKEA timer, or I’d never be able to fumble my way into the house. The now five-year-old outside solar lights stopped lighting my way months ago, and I haven’t yet managed to check if it’s something that can be easily fixed or if I should just buy new ones, but I need to figure it out quickly, before I bust my head coming up the walk in the dark.

Once home, the evening routine kicks into gear -- TV goes on to Judge Judy for my 5:30 class with the CDE Channel 13 Law School Independent Study program. The fur babies are fed, and then it’s time for our evening walk. The dogs are attached to leashes, I grab a couple poop pick-up bags and a flashlight and out we go. And that is where it comes to a stop. Winston heads down the walk, but without his morning exuberance, and Moose won’t step off the porch. I call to him to “Come!” and he looks at me and plants himself by digging in his paws. If I return to the porch to try and cajole him off, he stares me down like I am his adversary in a duel, which is what it is beginning to feel like.

A couple times, I’ve managed to get Moose off the porch and onto the walkway, where he stops, digs in and holds his ground again. On high alert, he is the perfect example of “head on a swivel” as he looks all around, nose sniffing the air and eyes darting in every possible direction.

If (and it’s a might big “IF”) I can get the dogs to accompany me to the end of the driveway, it feels like a victory. Then it’s an effort to drag Moose down the street while Winston ignores me and busies himself sniffing the decaying leaves on the side of the road. We may get three houses away, with my crappy flashlight cutting a feeble yellow beam through the darkness and a full-on battle of wills taking place.

When I finally concede defeat and give the usual end of our walk command, “Let's go back,” Winston and Moose execute a perfectly choreographed 180 degree turn, pick up the pace and head back towards the house. And by “pick up the pace,” I mean that they are now dragging me down the street, and with my still weak, broken one-year-ago leg, I am not match for their speed or strength. I drop the leashes, and tell them to “Go Home” and in a display matching that of a pack of sled dogs in The Iditarod, they are back on the safety of the porch, waiting for me still in the dark street. Thanks for the protection and company, guys.

Oddly, these are the same two dogs who, until very recently (as in, one week ago),  would bolt out of the yard in the dark and go exploring in the woods and neighboring yards for 15 to 30 minutes. I trust their ability and awareness of things I can’t see or detect, and I don’t take their reluctance lightly. I’m not that keen on walking around after dark in our neighborhood either. There are no sidewalks and barely one street light every 10 houses.

It has me wondering what they know that I don’t. What creepy predator might be lurking in the woods behind the house with the deer, turkey and owl? I read enough Stephen King novels in high school and college to have slept with the light on for several years. I hear the mysterious beast in the neighborhood that emits the chilling howl that wakes us up after midnight every few nights. I’m trusting the dogs on this -- if they don’t want to go walking after dark, we don’t have to. We'll stay inside and grow fat and happy together.

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