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Our dogs enjoy a good wide open run from time to time and our yard (and their willingness to respond to simple commands) isn’t conducive for a big run.  To make it work we have started going to a local dog park, the chained off yard of the local VFW.  It works out ok for the most part.

Today we went and briefly thought we would have other dogs there, a car pulled into the VFW parking lot but pulled off in the other direction.  There was a lot of honking later on and then I quit thinking about the car.

Five minutes later, I noticed the blue car again.  There was an old man, a couple of cats on a stone wall, and I intuited that the honking had been to call the cats to dinner.  When the man was finished he got in the car and pulled slowly towards us.  He jokingly asked us if we needed cats.

Chatting with him for a couple minutes we learned a few things.  He wore O2 but was still the driver, his wife was sitting next to him looking bemused.  He had noticed the cats a couple of years ago, abandoned and living near the VFW, and he had been back every day since to make sure they had dinner.  He also was the man who wanted the dog park to exist; his daughter had made the sign that let me know it was a park and a friend of his had helped put the fence in.  It was his dog that had inspired the park.  He still got a bit quieter when he talked about his black lab who loved to sniff the edges but never had the all out bolting run the man had hoped to see.

As they pulled away our dogs (and especially Oliver who is absolutely beautiful when he runs) took off across the park in their prettiest run.  It may be that the man noticed, or that with his age makes him cautious when he turns — I like to think he saw the running dogs — because he waited awhile before they pulled out.

Most of the men I’ve cared deeply about in my life loved their animals and all of the sentimentality of men, and old men, and animals all showed up all at once.  It has been sitting in my chest heavily for a couple of hours now, and I keep thinking about Hank Green.  Hank is a Vlogbrother and a man who I like from a distance, his dog Lemon (a retired racing greyhound) died this week.  He made a post about it.  He talked about the sadness that just is.  The crying, not for a reason, but because it is just crying.

I saw an old picture of my dad laughing today and it made me smile.

I saw an old man today that loved his dog so much he made a park a for it, and the dog loved it for totally different reasons.

I watched my guys with our dogs.

Hank Green had a greyhound (as I have had in my life, and as my dad did for a long time) and now Lemon is dead and Hank is sad.

So, in my chest is a sadness that just is.

So mid-February in the south means that you’ve basically made it through whatever “winter” you are going to have.  It is the equivalent of mid-March in Illinois, you know there is another day or two (or week) of crap weather but basically the corner has been turned.

The end of winter is when my New Year’s daydreams, or goal words, or whatever need to start up or pack up.  My mid-40s have taught me that a lot of my life is a cycle and that winter is when I want to create but often falter.

I remember a couple of years ago this was about the time of year that I wanted us to stop shouting from room to room and interrupting each other.  Last winter there were days at the beach painting fast watercolors.  This winter  I’ve missed opportunities to do things that I know keep me going (runs, good food, enough water), I’ve put off or displaced the things that help me feel on track (I have grocery shopped at Target (not even a super target – just target) for 4 weeks now).  The check engine light is on in mind – but it is the kind of check engine light that isn’t RED or BLINKING so … it is ok.

So, after a three day adventure weekend of long train rides and good company it is time to be ready for what comes next.  In the winter I daydream of creating things and get plowed under with the work of life.  This year (again, begin. again) I will work towards creating those things.

All I can do is relentlessly try.