Hot, drizzly Monday morning with the kitchen full of flies. Great blue horse flies, clustering black house flies, tiny hovering fruit flies. I cover the fruit bowls and spread muslin cloth over the veggie racks, sponge down counters and wipe tables. It makes no difference of course, the flies will keep coming. Flies are part of the given.
The dogs are all sitting in the kitchen doorway staring out at the hot rain splashing down on brickwork and grass and gravel, hissing summery rain. I know more or less what they are thinking, my much loved dogs sitting there together in the doorway. They want to go out and lie on the grass in the sun as they do each morning. They want to chase lizards and butterflies and follow me around the garden with my watering can. They want the daily routine. And it is raining. Something is wrong in blissful Dogland.
John Homans in What’s a Dog For?, reviewed here:
This state of being-in-the-moment is what’s so compelling about dogs. It’s hard for a human to get to it. Even in the most difficult times, dogs are cheerful and ready for experience. A dog can’t figure out that it’s being measured for its grave. The three-legged chow that walks on my street every day doesn’t know the number three or have any sense that anything is wrong with her at all (and as I write, the dog is sixteen and still fit). It’s not that a dog accepts the cards it’s been dealt; it’s not aware that there are cards. James Thurber called the desire for this condition ‘the Dog Wish,’ the ‘strange and involved compulsion to be as happy and carefree as a dog.’ This is a dog’s blessing, a dim-wittedness one can envy.
The second week of Advent, going into the third week of December. An impish anecdote about the young Thomas Merton fancying himself a saint-in-the-making, stopping on the way to hospital with suspected appendicitis to do a good deed: