The air has a chill to it this morning and the sun has yet to break through the darkness of night. Fall is coming, slow and gentle, like it does every year to ease us into the misery of winter. Soon it will be time to put away tank tops and shorts, swimsuits and flip flops in exchange for corduroys, sweaters and waterproof boots.
It is a problem that Midwesterners understand all too well, how to maintain two totally different wardrobes with only undergarments being seasonally interchangeable. Residents of Hawaii, California and Florida, you have no idea what you are missing out on. Unless of course, you escaped the weather of your home state after declaring to anyone who will listen, “This life of grey skies, chapped hands, and constant scarf wearing is no longer tolerable.”
I am nearing that state as my tolerance diminishes with each year.
Yet, I stay and dream of escape and an ocean breeze to cool my sun-kissed face, not ready for the change that a move would require. And I work, like the rest of the sheeple that I know. I work to pay utility bills and a mortgage, to buy food for my cats, husband, and self, and sometimes, I work just to get through to another season with the promise of better days.
As an offshoot of this working, I recently found myself as a defacto dog-sitter.
It started out as a one-time only situation, out of sheer necessity, and has since turned into a routine as natural as picking up the mail from the mailbox after work or taking out the trash on a Thursday night. Whenever the owner of the hound leaves, he stops by the office with a leash and a bag of snacks.
“These are just in case she gets hungry.”
Gee, I thought they were a present for me. I nod and wave the man off, I know the deal. Take her out for a walk when she whines at the door, give her treat whenever she asks for one. Easy.
The dog entrusted to my care is a mixture between Rottweiler and German shepherd and woe to the fool who messes with her. Actually, she can’t be left alone without howling and trying to escape by hurling all seventy pounds or so repeatedly against the door which is how I ended up as her temporary custodian. In summary, she is an emotionally dependent, fatty girl with missing teeth and bad breath, loyal to bacon strips and strangers who might be carriers of her beloved bacon strips.
Not that I mind her company. After she gets dropped off, she flops herself down at my feet and patiently waits for a treat or for her owner to return. The former always occurs before the latter. When her owner does finally return for the beast, it is always with a generous payment in hand and gratitude.
Lately, I have been paid in cucumbers. Extraordinarily large, garden fresh cucumbers.
A worthy payment for services rendered and in the customary Hoosier spirit, he has given me more than I could ever eat.
Generosity: it’s one of the good problems that Midwesterners are all too familiar with, right after mastering the fine art of small talk about the weather.