The Block Island Times
http://block-island.villagesoup.com/p/1179262

Some Days are Diamonds

By Martha Ball | May 21, 2014
Photo by: Martha Ball

Recently I saw a photograph of a dog looking stunningly like my Autumn, standing at the edge of a quiet sea, with the caption “Nothing there? Well, I'd better bark at it.”

And so goes the life of my dog, barking at the deer, at the wind, at the air. I had forgotten another golden years ago, reacting when the neighbor left his house in the morning, and at every one of his early chores, often before daylight in the darker part of the year. He woofingly announced every step of the way, tasks then spread about when there were animals to tend and, finally, a grand farewell when the neighbor drove off up the Mansion Road, out to work.

Today, the neighbor roared up in his truck — there is no other way to describe it — and Autumn was ecstatic, the second visitor in the same day. He had come home for lunch and realized that those darn kids had let the dog out in the morning and left him out. I was fleetingly thrilled that for once it was not my creature on the loose. I knew my pup could not understand but I thought of putting my hands over her ears; she has so far limited her curiosity to the north lot, the back field and the swamp beyond, the realm of the pond troll, and I did not want to tempt fate.

The neighbor charged out into the north lot in his great diesel guzzling steed, leaving on the grass a track that will be disappearing tomorrow as the new growth continues its climb to the sun. Autumn charged after him, the fluffy puppy who tumbled over her own feet when she tried to run across the yard, and the long-limbed youth who couldn't quite navigate sharp corners, gone. I have had dogs before, puppies who grew into big goldens, but I do not remember it happening so fast.

She is a freight train, I hear her thundering around the house in pursuit of something to pursue, but watching her chase the truck with a single mindedness that seemed out of character was unsettling until she was distracted and turned into the higher grass. A deer might have been there two days ago.

He roared off still searching and she resumed her chase until he stopped and shooed her back to me. Another of my dogs was months younger when he thought nothing of gallivanting off with a neighbor; I am heartened that Autumn has, so far, stayed close to home.

It is May, finally, at long last, glorious May. The ocean is so calm at night I see the reflection of the red light at the top of the telephone tower, blinking on and off, on the ocean. The morning sun hits the new house north of the Solviken site with such intensity it is mirrored in the sea across the road. It is a surprise, still, that the east shore of the island is such a gentle curve on maps, and seems such a deep bay looking from my house to the harbor. I see the front street hotels, the National, tall and proud, gleaming in the new day, and the Harborside, and through the thickening foliage, up on the hill the Atlantic and the grande dame Spring House only because I know they are there. It does not seem possible but I know we could also see the long line of the Ocean View porch on a summer night and remember when its generator house burned and the hotel went dark, how black that part of the harbor looked on a summer night.

It is May, time of open doors that will surely, as happens every year, lead to birds in the house, and this year the chaos will be compounded by this young dog.

It is also creating a new chore, retrieving Autumn's toys from the yard, a bit of role reversal. There is the picking up of the various sticks she has gotten from fallen trees and goodness knows where, and finally, there is the gradual clearing out of the old shed in which she is assisting. Some days a hammer, some days a stone, I write thinking I have a title I can steal from familiar lyric. Not so familiar, I find, the song is “some days are diamonds (some days are stone)” which makes infinitely more sense and I have no idea whence I got “hammer.”

But here, some days, it is a hammer, some days it is a stone, gotten, again, from goodness knows where, some days it is a half crewed-up container that once held some horrid petroleum product. My wheelbarrow, one of those deep heavy gauge black plastic rigs, is filling with junk, bits and pieces, largely unidentifiable, that this dog salvages for sport. At least she takes things out and seems at last to have forsaken carrying branches back inside, chunks of wood to be gnawed and strewn on the rug, leaving slivers to be caught in my yarn that seems to leap to the floor when I am away from it.

Temperature dropping to the 40s I've just heard, my punishment for turning the radio on and disrupting the gentle peace of a May day. The view from my window is… slow, the daffodils at the edge of the yard still well formed. Others, solidly yellow, are fading but these, pale petals with orange trumpets are at peak. The tentative shad is budded pink, the hesitant crab apple a lady-in-waiting. The forsythia blooms, more bright yellow, are falling, making way for new green leaves.

The view of the pond is less already, the Canada geese weave in and out of out of sight, something else to tempt the dog to bark. Not so silly these geese who know full well where they can go and where she cannot.

The sun shines on the water. This day is one of diamonds.

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