Saturday, August 27, 2016
Maxwell of course knows when only one of us is here in the Farmhouse at night. Usually but not always me, because my wife usually goes down to NYC to keep an eye on this renovation we are enduring–yes, yes; I know we are very lucky people–and an ear on her intense and growingly important involvement in the hearing-loss community. I want nothing to do with the renovation besides living in it when it is completely done, with not a $400 closet shelf absent. $400–no joke, except for the fact that it is a joke.
Anyway, in the middle of any given mono-spousal night, at, say 2 AM, Maxwell, seizing the main chance and open bed territory, like Putin with Crimea, jumps up on the bed and commences an exhaustive self-grooming. Half an hour, at least. Not only licking his paws and his parts, such as they are, poor guy, but scratching every aspect of his body he can reach, rubbing his snout and elongating himself against the cover as if he were a submarine trying but failing to submerge, snuffling and sneezing like a fat Victorian gentleman after a healthy pinch of snuff. The ear scratching is seismic, because his elbow, if that’s what it it is, does a Hawaiian hula-drummer beat on the bed.
Then suddenly he is barking like mad. For thirty-six pounds, he has the most decibelistic bark you can imagine. In between barking fits, I can hear outside the hoo-hoo-hoos of coyotes in the hills behind our house. Is Maxwell alerting me or does he maybe harbor a yearning to join them? This goes on for ten minutes, Maxwell jumping off the bed, barking and waiting by the bedroom door as if I really might open it, let him go downstairs, open the porch door, and attack or join the coyotes. (Have you been reading about the environmental conflict over coyotes, the one side extolling their intelligence and remarkable adaptability to our ecosystem incursions, the other decrying their merciless predations on flocks and herds and other assemblies of livestock. I’m with the coyotes. Easy for me–herdless as we are–to say.)
He settles down–if you can call his Simone Biles sleeping maneuvers settling down. Until 5:15, when I experience his trampolinesque jump down from the bed and hear his plaintive whimpering at the door. OK, OK. This is unusual and decidedly un-feral and tells me that he needs to go out, if you know what I mean.
Downstairs we go, me in my boxers and T-shirt that says “Clinton Gore 96,” Maxwell much more comely in his handsome and hypo-allergenic fur. Completing my outit, I put on the black rubber high-top boots–with yellow toes (why?)–that I wear to walk him at around 10 every night, the grass on our lawn as wet with dew as it would be from rain, and put Maxwell on his leash. The moon is out. It is just barely getting light in the East–over Boston, I imagine. Maxwell courteously leads me over to his preferred download zone, as far from the house as his shock collar would allow if he were wearing it, as he now all Pavlovianly believes he always is, and takes care of what needs to be taken care of.
It’s tempting to go right back in the house and back to bed, but the light is so eerie and the time of night so unusual, and the time of year–the end of August–so poignant, in its reminder of summer’s end, that I take Max back to the main part of the lawn and just stand there, pondering the imponderables and the *lachrymae rerum*–the tears of things. Maxwell sits down at my side. He has no imponderables, I bet. Unlucky lucky dog.