A Conversation With My Dog Whilst Raking

08/16/2006 12:00 AM |

“I see you’re urinating in the leaf pile again,” I said.

“Yes,” said Elmo. He didn’t say the words so much as he thought them. His thoughts come directly to me and vice versa.

Now he was finished urinating and was in his proud hound stance: head and ears thrown back, nose sniffing the breeze, eyes peering deeply into the faraway.

“You do this every year.”

He said nothing.

“I rake and rake, make these giant mounds of leaves, and you come along and urinate on them.”

“That is my nature,” said Elmo.

“Well, it’s getting a little annoying. Year after year.”

“The leaves returneth every year.”

“Yes, and I have to rake them up every year.”

“That is your nature.”

“It’s not my nature. I hate raking.”

“Then why do you rake?”

“Because the yard would be full of leaves if I didn’t. You couldn’t even walk through it.”

“What man rakes the forest?”

“No one rakes the forest.” I knew where this was going.

“And yet, you have seen me walk there.”

I moved to a new spot and kept raking. Elmo followed.

“Autumn comes and the leaves falleth,” he said. “I walk among them. I urinate upon them. Then comes another autumn, and more leaves. Then another and another. The forest does not fill up. The Earth welcomes the leaves.

That is its nature.”

“Do you have to use the biblical verbs?”

“For the purpose of this conversation, it pleaseth me.”

“Well, it annoyeth the hell out of me.” I picked up a stick and threw it onto the stick pile. He watched calmly.

“This Lord Elmo routine,” I said. “You stand around, sniff the wind, piss on the leaves, while I do all the work.”

It was a losing battle, like urging him to help around the house instead of just lounging until mealtime.

He said nothing. The new leaf pile grew. Elmo walked up beside it, sniffed once and then urinated on it. He looked right at me while he did it.

“Your problem,” he said, “is you are out of harmony with the leaves.”

“Well, please help me to harmonize, oh wise one.”

“First you must understand their nature. They fall and the Earth welcomes them. Then they returneth.”

I moved to a new spot and kept raking. Elmo followed.

“They will fall again next year,” he said. “And the year after that. And the year after that. And one day I too will fall, and I will become leaves. This is not sad. I have been leaves many times. The leaves are my brothers.”

I glanced at Elmo. He was peering into the distance again. I checked the view. Nothing there but wind and bare trees and horizon.

“One day you too will fall, man of leaves,” he said.

Stubbornness kept me raking.