You Were on My Mind

Loren Kerns/Flickr
Loren Kerns/Flickr

I woke up this morning, the dog was on my mind. But as I went out into the early light, I was not singing and I was not thinking about a drink. It was a real dog, mine, and he’d spent an interminable portion of the night barking at a hysterical pitch and turning fevered circles in front of the gate at the property entrance. Something was out there and he wanted at it. With the gate securely closed, his only exit was over the top of the six-foot stone wall, which he could not scale. He tried though, over and over, taking a first jump for the wall via the hood of my car, parked beside it. I awoke in the night to the rattle of his chain across the car’s metal and from my bedroom window saw his first attempts when he slid back, paws splayed to slow his slide. He didn’t give up, and after gaining the hood even clambered up the windshield onto the roof. It was a jump of five feet across to the top of the wall, and from where I watched, it appeared he might plunge into the narrow ravine between the car and the wall. Perhaps he thought so too, because instead of leaping, he skittered back down to the hood, back to the ground, to the gate, did some more urgent barking, and then once again was back to the car for the hood and roof routine. I went down, where I found my other dog, outside the gate. I let him in, wondering if all the excitement was just to welcome back the escapee. I hoped peace would reign.

The barking, however, went on, and when morning came, I was grumpy. The dog was on my mind, and so was the poor old car. But there it stood, braced on its four wheels, sturdy little van that it is, a kind of delivery vehicle that serves equally well as a family car. Its like does not exist in the States, though here in Spain it’s quite common; at least six car manufacturers make their version of this furgoneta. Though he took pains twice in his life to acquire a beautiful Mercedes, first a black coupe and then a white sedan, my father admired my car when he first saw it, 20 years ago. It was new then, one of the early spiffed-up versions, the previous models leaning more toward utility than comfort, with a cramped cab separated from the storage area. In my car, it’s all one compartment, and except for the biannual inspections required for all utility vehicles, the car has been a blessing.

This morning, as I stood looking at the many, many small scratches in the white paint from the dog’s nails, I thought how lucky I was to have an old and somewhat beat-up car that did not look any the worse for the dog’s having used it as a step-ladder. It was holding up well, and actually the scratches added to its grizzled look, suiting the car’s years. I was extremely pleased, to be honest, that the damage was no damage to this car. Thank goodness, I thought, in a fine mood now, that I was not the proud owner of a Mercedes or a Porsche. Lucky me! I turned and kissed the dog. Lucky you!

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Clellan Coe, a writer in Spain, is a contributing editor of the Scholar.


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