OK, I realize summer doesn't officially start for another two weeks. But it sure feels like summer.
It's getting hot outside, and things have slowed down since the end of May, when we had an unusually early citywide election and then schools let out and then the nation observed Memorial Day.
One evening this week, I found myself out on the screen porch with the ceiling fan at high speed and a refreshing beverage in hand. No shuttling kids to evening activities and no worrying about homework assignments or permission slips or lunch money. My daughter, who recently graduated from high school, was off working at summer camp. One son was shooting baskets in the driveway, another was playing video games and the other was spending the night with a friend.
Summer had begun.
So I just sat there, sipping my drink and rocking in my new glider. I'd always wanted one of those big metal contraptions that everybody's grandmother had but nobody can seem to find anymore. I bought a replica online, and when my wife saw the credit card charge she gave it to me for my birthday.
Fair enough. It arrived unassembled, and my oldest son, the one who built an exact replica of the space shuttle in Legos when he was 4, helped me put it together.
Every now and then, I'd look through the screen at my dog Dexter. We'd just returned from a walk, and I'd tied his leash to the hammock stand. "Hey, Dexter," I'd say, and Dexter would smile.
I was thinking of the song that goes, "Religion is the smile on a dog," which makes me think that singer Edie Brickell (1) doesn't think much of religion and (2) doubts that dogs can actually smile, which of course they can.
I took another sip of my drink and closed my eyes and heard the neighborhood dogs going berserk. Then I turned to ask Dexter what he thought of that.
Dexter was gone.
His harness, still connected to the leash, which was still connected to the hammock stand, lay in the grass, which reminded me of my wife's frequent warnings that Dexter can easily slip out of his harness.
Which reminded me of the John Wayne quote from "The Sands of Iwo Jima," which we used to quote a lot in the Army: "Life's tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid."
I started driving around the neighborhood looking for my dog. At one point, he sprinted alongside my truck and then veered off and charged into a thicket. He appeared to be laughing maniacally. I wonder what Edie Brickell would say about that.
We didn't see Dexter for the rest of the night. I was mad at him, but the rest of my family was pretty mature about it. One son even filled Dexter's dog food bowl and left the garage door open. When I accurately predicted that Dexter would sneak into the garage and eat his food while we were watching television and then sneak back into the woods, the son said that was fine. "At least he'll associate home with food and always come back."
At least, I think he was talking about the dog and not himself and his brothers.
My wife said that if Dexter never came back, we could always remember how happy he was dashing into the woods.
But the next morning we found him under the breakfast room window, asleep in a bed of mondo grass.
Glad to be home, with a smile on his face.
Enjoy the summer, everybody.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org