It's good to be home. In the company of my mostly loyal canine as we wander the neighborhood, tethered to each other by the long leash we use.
There are no buildings that nearly drip with elegance but I do enjoy the comfortable homes, the block of townhouses and the paths that wiggle through the neighborhood before aligning in a busier highway. Still, it's too early for that on a weekend morning so we wander in the quiet, broken only by the songs of two birds as they warble in counterpoint under the rising sun and clouds outlined in glimmering light.
"No," I warned gently when ears and nose perked at the gray squirrel scampering busily among the trees near the river. Chienne turned to look at me briefly before sighing over her lost prey. We turned from the paved path into the forest, listening to the whisper of the wind and looking up through the untamed tangle of branches. There are no manicured bushes or flowering beds here. Instead, leaves turned brown and brittle litter the ground near the mulched path and branches fallen from trees are scattered haphazardly atop the gently rolling hills that keep the swollen river from creeping toward my house.
I enjoy the quickening of breath and quieting of thoughts as we progress along our path. Up the hill then down a bit then up again, pausing to search for the woodpecker I can generally hear but not see as Woody's laugh echoes in my mind, a gentle memory of childhood and spilling cereal on my pajamas as I sat in front of the television to watch cartoons.
My head is above water at work - barely, but enough to count. I leave tomorrow for another week of travel, heading west rather than east this time, and find myself dreading it even as I long to place a vase from Barcelona on the table in my office, happily pretty as it holds water for the pale pink daisies arranged carelessly inside.
But now laundry washes in time to be tucked in another bag. I need to take another walk, this time down my street, to ask the tiny neighbor girls if they'd like to look in on Chienne while I'm gone. But it's quiet. And pleasant. And eventually I'll settle into routine once again.