The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Just Listen


Boots is my companion this weekend. She’s on vacation. When we arrive, she stands in the yard. Then she’s flying off to visit her old friends at the garage before I could yell, “Stop!” They’re all barking in recognition or barking because she’s free and they’re fenced in. Later as I cleaned my car, I saw her edge slowly, ready for the dash to the garage. I stopped her in her tracks. “Wait for me in the basement!” I commanded. She peeked at me from the partly open door. She whined. But she stayed.

I was leaning against the concrete wall on the corner of Main and Bear in Worthington waiting for my ride. I felt like the kid on those streets again. Strangers now in most of the houses where neighbors had lived. If I lived here, those strangers would be neighbors. I passed a couple of people I knew from high school.

My friends picked me up, the lone woman standing on the corner. We were going to the first concert of Arts on the Allegheny. Eddie Money. We were late. The concrete bleachers were full. The grassy hillside littered with chairs and blankets of those who beat us there. A band was playing already. The Clarks someone said. So we set up chairs and listened to what we couldn’t see. People watching. The beer tent to our right. Food stands calling me. I was hungry. Kids. A stroller with tiny twins. Smiles at their tiny bodies. Their first concert. Do they think the world outside is a noisy place? We walked down the steps and along the river walk to look and listen. Excitement of a crowd. Energizing. Community. Boats moored in the river waters listening to notes reverberate on the water. What an awesome seat! Some might think the best seat in the house except those lucky enough to sit in the front rows. I texted my daughter. Everyone in Kittanning is here and not one person I know. Then a few people I recognized. And then someone I stopped to talk. The last time we saw each other. The trail. Me biking, him running.

I came home to Boots waiting for release. Together on the dark porch. Me with a glass of wine. She walked with clicking toenails on the floor. Then silence. Boots? Where are you? Flooding the yard with light from the porch, I saw her near the edge of the yard ready for the race. Come here! We sat together on the couch now, in the dark. A deer spotter in a truck came slowly up the road. Spotting our opposite hillsides, then the pasture hillside, then the spotlight aimed at the house. Isn’t it early for deer spotting?


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