Morning Eye Opener, a.k.a. The Greatest Walk EVER!!!!!

I was really sleepy this morning. I mean, really sleepy. Like weeks of six or fewer hours of sleep are starting to hit me, and even when I can force myself to start the day, I can’t force my eyes open.

I dragged through getting up, getting clean, getting dressed, getting out the door with the dog. The dog doesn’t like mornings any more than I do, so in what is clearly karmic payback for my mother having to wake my sleepy self for school for all those years, I have to wheedle and cajole the dog up to walk before I can leave for work. I tend to loudly and cheerfully belt show tunes from the bottom of the stairs, holding treats to bribe him out of his pleasant slumber. (“Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! and “Good Morning!” from Singin’ in the Rain, typically. When we walk late at night, yes I do croon Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.” I’m enthusiastic with my singing, but not spending much time on subtlety of song selection.)

So we finally, finally got out the door this morning. Yesterday, we had a spirited chase of a squirrel in the morning, which he enjoyed thoroughly, so I was hoping for something like that. I was listening to the TED Radio Hour’s broadcast, which this week is about love. I don’t usually listen via headphones— I stick my phone speaker up in the breast pocket of my jacket and listen that way. Partially, it saves my earbuds for when I really need them— I am very hard on earbuds. Also it saves me carrying earbuds, and just maybe, it will help preserve my hearing just in case I need it someday. Just as we got to a conversation about keeping the spark of desire alive in a marriage, we encountered a guy walking his dog. Our dogs did the very complicated meeting ritual while my jacket spoke loudly about sexual desire and I wished fervently for the ground to swallow me whole.

We went our separate ways, but my face was still red when the pup spotted a squirrel running up a staircase. We ran to the base of the staircase, but I wouldn’t let him up it. You see, what I don’t tell him is that I don’t mind if he chases bunnies, waterfowl, and squirrels, but I’m never going to let him catch one. I have sympathy for the bunnies and the waterfowl, and I don’t want to have to clean up gutted squirrels (My mother drummed into my head as a child that squirrels are rabies-infected vermin covered in disease-infested fleas, so I only like the ones in Disney movies. In real life, I want them at least 5 feet from me and I prefer if they maintain a healthy aversion to me at all times.)

Apparently, it’s the pup’s lucky day, because I kid you not, this is what happened next.

The squirrel, safe at the top of the staircase, and with access to a tree that would take him to a roof that would allow him to get as far from us as possible, runs toward us down the staircase and up a tree 20 feet away. I’m committed to letting the dog chase squirrels (and even if I weren’t, it’s early morning and he starts to whine and bark and get excited, so ignoring this is not a great option), so we follow to the base of the tree. Whereupon the squirrel falls out of the tree 18 inches from me (further from the dog) and I start to freak out, until he gets back up and heads up the tree again (not far enough or fast enough for my taste, thankyouverymuch, because the dog nearly catches him while he’s still about three feet off the ground.)

Once he’s out of harm’s way, the dog starts whining and barking (probably roughly translates into “how could you let him get away?! You had him!”) and I start trying to lead the dog home, because I’m approaching late-to-work territory, and he’s whining, barking and waking up the neighborhood (he’s a good-sized dog with an outsized bark— he doesn’t use it much, thank heaven, but the boy could absolutely wake the neighborhood.) And he slips his collar.

Thankfully for me, he’s not terribly inclined to run from me at the moment, so I got his collar on while he insisted that I rub his belly; I got him on his feet through liberal bribery and cajoling; the squirrel (terrified and clutching the tree in a very non-casual way) got high enough up that the dog was willing to walk with me, and then, when we got home, there were ducks on our patio, which was another whole shade of awesome and necessitated running around the building (there should have been four of them— two males and two females. We’d seen them fly from a nearby pond earlier in the walk. There was one male and two females on the patio— they took off, and we ran around I’m guessing to see if we could surprise the missing male. We did not, for which I am supremely grateful.)

The good news is that I was not at all likely to fall asleep behind the wheel, on the way to work this morning. Thank you, local wildlife, for your commitment to commuting safety (and NPR, for humiliating me in front of strangers!)

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