Even a challenging day offers golden moments
Special to Stars and Stripes September 8, 2023
When I heard the dog whine at sunrise, I hoped it was just a dream. I’d awakened at 2:30 am when I heard retching near our bed. Several obnoxious “ups” later, he’d regurgitated a scrunchie he’d gobbled up days ago. I hadn’t anticipated a middle-of-the-night biological waste clean-up and wasn’t ready to face the day.
My Navy-retiree husband usually handled the morning dog walks, but he’d just started a new job requiring him to commute to Connecticut every week. During my 24 years as a Navy wife, I’d become accustomed to adjusting my schedule to absorb extra home responsibilities while he was away.
However, this first day alone was not off to a very good start.
Baggy-eyed, I dressed while our six-month-old yellow lab, Gilligan, licked my knees. It annoyed me that his goofy grin and eternal optimism seemed to say, “C’mon, Mom! There’s a big beautiful world out there! Let’s go see!” when all I could think was, “It’s too humid outside, I’m already exhausted, and I need caffeine.”
While brewing coffee in the kitchen, the refrigerator began to beep and flash lights. Included in the purchase of our home, our fancy kitchen appliances’ digital panels were terrifying. I was more accustomed to the basic appliances that came with military housing.
I pressed the “Mute Sounds” button on the refrigerator’s panel, and the beeping stopped. Just like I’d done countless times with my car’s “check engine” light, I decided to ignore the beeps and hope they’d go away.
Gilligan’s latest trick was running from me when I put his leash on. He wanted to go on a walk, but something in his ditzy lab brain thought it was hilarious to dart away every time I got close enough to get the harness over his head.
Ten minutes and three dog biscuits later, we were finally ready for our walk. I plugged in my ear pods, tapped the “play” button on my latest Audible true crime book and began our trek down Friendship Street, with the retractable leash handle in one hand, and my travel mug in the other.
“Gilly, no!” I yelled when he went after a rabbit, causing me to knock the travel mug into my front tooth while taking a sip. Down the next street, he left a deposit on someone’s lawn that I bagged up and carried in the same hand holding the leash. Half a block later, he darted under a tree to grab ground apples, causing me to spill coffee down the front of my shirt.
This infuriating, yanking, zig-zagging routine went on for almost three miles, when Gilligan stopped to make another deposit in a tall patch of weeds. My shoulder tendinosis was acting up, my nerves were shot, and I wondered, “How am I going to do this every morning?”
Just then, I noticed an elaborate spider’s web clinging doggedly to an overgrown vine in the hazy morning light. It bobbed gently with the movement of the branches, sagging gracefully from the weight of dew droplets like Victorian draperies. Despite the forces acting upon it, the web remained completely unbroken, perfect in shape and symmetry.
In the park, we encountered an elderly man tossing a ball to his Australian Shepherd. Tired of fumbling with the leash, my travel mug and two filled dog-do bags, I stopped to let Gilly play off leash. At one point during our idle chitchat, the old man asked my age. “Fifty-seven,” I admitted.
“You look pretty good for an old broad,” he replied nonchalantly.
Back at home, Gilligan fell fast asleep on his kitchen dog bed, fully satisfied with his morning. Listening to his tranquil snore, I contemplated the start of my first day alone. Arguably, it had been terrible — lacking adequate sleep and fraught with nothing but inconveniences. But on the other hand, my morning included tiny bright spots, small flashes of light, shiny nuggets of pure gold upon which I could opt to focus.
That afternoon, I shared the photo of the beautiful spider’s web on social media, and I laughed with a friend about the backhanded compliment I’d received at the park.
All things considered, it had been a good morning after all.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org