The last of it is going now. The dark is coming so early, the leaves are falling or fallen. There is no more time for short-sleeves or sandals, no more chances for swimming.
Winter’s inevitability is dominant and more important imaginable. The length of the season ahead is best not considered, the brevity of the daylight is ominous enough.
The autumn sunsets are beautiful though. They come too early, but are red and orange and gold, the sky united with the earth. That last hour of the day is a time for quiet, when the beauty is striking but its fate is known to one-and-all. It seems that anyone out in it admires it and tries to breathe in the last rays of the sun.
Last night I left work as the sun was only a few degrees above the horizon. I maneuvered rush hour traffic as quick as I could so I would have enough light when I got home to take Lola to the park for a bit. There aren’t many days left when we will be able to do that.
When I got home, I changed quickly and we walked the couple blocks to the park, which is just a rarely-used soccer field. I brought the Chuckit and some water for her and threw the tennis ball over and over for her to chase down. The dusk hour was cool and quiet.
For being a retriever, Lola is sometimes easily-distracted from the task at hand. For the first 15 minutes, she occasionally got distracted by some smell in the grass on her way back to me and would drop the ball — forgetting about it entirely — and follow her nose. I eventually would have to walk out, retrieve the ball myself, and then regain her interest in the game.
As I concentrated on trying to convince her to actually bring the ball back to me every time, I forgot about pretty much everything else. I had felt inexplicably anxious and a little stressed by the end of the work day and had a slight headache. But in the middle of the big field, with no other people around, and just the frustrations of my poorly-trained dog to contend with, I felt happy and relaxed and the headache dissolved into the cool evening air.
After a while, Lola started to bring the ball back consistently. My mistake had probably been to not give her a chance to run around and “patrol the perimeter” as she likes to do on arriving somewhere. Once she had investigated all the smells and eaten some grass, she focused on the game and she got a good workout sprinting out after the ball and loping back to me with it proudly clutched in her mouth.
We walked home in the last gray light and I was happy that I had been able to use the dwindling daylight. This season is so powerfully defined by what it is, and what it is not, and what it will be.