By Mark E. Smith
I’m sitting on my deck, roasting marshmallows this summer’s eve, my English bulldog, Rosie, sleeping on the honey-colored wood. Years ago, she would have ran off into the woods chasing critters, but now she’s eight, and would likely rather be laying on the couch in the air-conditioned house. However, this eve, it’s just her and me, so we stick together, relaxing on the deck.
“Rosie, you’ve gotten old and lazy,” I tell her, and she opens one eye, not moving a muscle, jowls flopped on the deck. “You’re no good for conversation anymore when all you do is sleep.”
I built this place twelve years ago, loving the property – close to work and town, yet rural and serene. In fact, the deck is designed so that when sitting on it, it overlooks lawn and woods and a creek, no other homes seen or traffic heard – just the nature of the Pocono region that stays lush and green throughout the summer – the grass, the trees, the native ferns.
Oddly, although I’ve always maintained my property and deck – often mowing twice per week, spraying surrounding weeds, and keeping the deck stained – I’ve never really enjoyed any of it till this year. I bought some cheap patio furniture and a not-so-cheap gas fire pit, and it’s all turned out well, soothing décor that gives me a front-row seat to nature without leaving home.
“Rosie, you’re snoring,” I pipe at the dog, wondering if I’m getting old like her, too?
Some eves I sit out here with my daughter. Some eves I sit out here and read. Some eves I sit out here and write. And, some eves I just sit here – with Rosie, the fire flickering, the lush grass, dense woods, and evening breeze surrounding me. And, I’m content. Maybe I am getting older, wiser, more relaxed?
“Rosie, in people years, you’d be fifty eight,” I tell her, and she opens her one eye again, slightly. “If you were a person, you couldn’t get away with your laziness. But, because you’re a mush-faced bulldog, it’s charming. And, maybe you’re just smarter than most – no one bothers you, and you don’t bother anyone.”
Those close to me say they’ve noticed changes in me, too. My sister said she’s observed that I only tell funny stories about our parents these days – I guess I’m letting the bad ones go. I was just down in Washington D.C., having lunch with my life-long best friend, and I think he sensed a more laid-back me. My daughter, work, the house, the dog – it’s all good, and I just don’t worry about much else. Like Rosie, I try not to bother anyone, and I don’t want anyone bothering me.
I toss Rosie a raw marshmallow, it landing directly in front of her face. She sniffs it, then scarves it down, looking to me for another.
“You’ve got it all figured out, Rosie,” I say. “Why waste time chasing the futile when, with faith and patience, life will eventually bless us with its best – and sometimes a marshmallow.”