Author’s note: This short little story was created for the 2014 Plein Air (Columbia Center for the Arts). The inspiration came from visiting the Bingen Marina which was a very family and special place because of the memories of one very special dog. cn
“Are you ready to go, Kira?” I casually asked the honey colored dog dozing on the rug.
Immediately she jumped up, snapped to attention and started doing her “we’re going on a walk” dance.
During the summer months our daily routine included taking an early morning walk. “Us” included myself, my husband, and Kira, our three year old German Shepherd / Boxer mix. What a great way to greet the day and clear our minds and spirit before heading off for work.
Now she was up, she quickly grew impatient as we were taking too long to gather our jacket, water bottle, car keys and the leash. At the sight of the leash finally in our hands, her dance turned into jumps.
Boing! … I am! … Boing! … So!… Boing! … Excited!
“Can we go, can we go, can we go?” Her jumps now evolved into spinning.
We loved to come here just as the sun was peeking up over the hills to the east. While we rarely, if ever, saw any other people. We saw lots of God’s creatures who also frequented the marina in the early morning hours.
Eagles and Osprey’s flew overhead and occasionally we heard the “coo” of morning doves high up in trees. Once we came across very fresh bear sign. So fresh, that we cut our walk a bit short to avoid meeting its owner among the thick willow bushes and narrow trails. Coyotes were very fond of this area as well, and for good reason. The same good reason that had Kira so excited to begin our walk.
The trails, willow patches and scrub oak were alive with fast moving, high jumping, scitter-scatter bunnies. Kira just knew that someday, at some moment, there might be a chance that she would actually catch one of these delightfully fun little creatures. She would amble along beside us. Until out of the corner of her eye she would spot one….and off she went. Head down, nose pointed. Her legs moving so fast little puffs of dust would follow along after her. Short bursts of high adrenaline and then. Then. Utter disappointment. She had lost it. It had gotten away. She would resume her stroll by our side. Sometimes the bunnies would sit so still that we could see them, but Kira had no idea there were there. We would come so close we could see their heavy breathing and sense their tense muscles ready to erupt and carry them away at the first sign of danger. We felt fairly certain that she would never actually catch one, but were always prepared to go into rescue mode just in case a miracle occurred.
Sitting here today, at the marina, head down, focused on putting words on my writing pad, the memory is so vivid and real. It is almost as if I could raise my head up and see Kira bounding towards me once again. Her deep dark eyes sparkling and her tongue hanging down out of the side of her mouth from all her happy exertions. But the marina trails and willow patches are almost gone. They gave ground for industry, parking lots and buildings.
Kira? She is gone as well. I pray she is happily chasing bunnies through the clouds of heaven.