Sunday, January 30, 2011

Four legged alarm

Each morning irregardless of day, our boxer ambles in from the living room where she sleeps and plants either her front paws or her cold nose somewhere in my warm, resting, relaxed body.  The result of her actions is an opposite and immediate reaction. Often I will rise quickly, instinctual alarm mode in play. Brain synapses firing like the engine in a 900 horsepower NASCAR  racer tell me it is flight or fight time.  And depending on whether I am close enough to the side of the bed for her nose to reach me or her paws to prod me; I either wake up stark upright, which hurts like the dickens, or I awaken to doggy breath, on my nose, which is a fate that immediately shuts down most of my olfactory senses.

Either way, my fate is sealed. I must arise and take her outside for her daily security check of her kingdom, the backyard. She lopes out, her nose dictating her direction, and once she is sufficiently out of my night vision she snorts. The snort is not unlike a startled deer, which alarms with a nasal exhale to flush out of the terrain what it senses. Somewhere out there she fulfills her bodily functions, and continues her security check. She makes sure, there are no squirrels down from their aerial homes in the trees, prospecting in the soil for acorns.Her nose leads her to the old dug out area beneath the wood stand where a rat once lived. It's life quickly snuffed out when it made the mistake of playing hide and seek in the yaupon thicket near the back of the yard. How was the rat to know a that a boxer, especially this boxer would bore through the spiky low brush, unabated by the thorns to strike at it's frozen in fear body?

While Myrtle, yes her name is Myrtle, continued her reconnoiter of the territory, I stand at the door that leads in and out of the porch. Everyone this year it seems has experienced and is living through a colder than average winter. We are no exception here in the deep south, twelve miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The warm air that generally blankets our area, nourished by the sea has been pinned back by a northern air mass that just seems much too accustomed to her sandy and red clay land. And because of this rather cold air mass that has come like the snowbirds to St. Petersburg or Miami, I am left to shiver at the porch, waiting on a dog that thinks it is an infantry soldier securing the perimeter of hill Myrtle's domain.

Sometimes there in the pre-dawn, the trees that are bare of leaves silhouette themselves against a sky barren of clouds, barren of light, except for the white faraway stars placed carefully here and there in the canvas of a painting only the Almighty could design. Black arms and fingers,  are stretching  up to the sky, waiting for the next warm moment when new leaves will adorn the fan like wooden frame that is so beautiful on a spring day. Yet, this early morning, devoid of leaf, a strange beauty beckons. In the distance, more trees display their bare beauty across the neighborhood and somewhere a bird sings, joyful for the light that is opening a new day just at the horizon.

Mesmerized by the wonder of it all, I am once again awakened by Myrtle, her frigid nose nuzzling my hand delivering me back into reality. Tomorrow and the tomorrow after that and for the foreseeable future, Myrtle will awake me each morning. I will startle awake, not unlike a jack in the box, and the scene will unfold. Still, in another month the mornings will not be so cold, and I will in my own way, miss the frigid morning that a four legged alarm awakes me to, snuffing and all.