Today we went for a walk down the road. The dirt road was washed with golden sunlight and dusted with the smells and sounds of summer. Have I mentioned anything before about the area little lion gets to call home? To sum it up in one word: splendiferous has a nice ring to it...
Behind our house and a ways down the road the trees open up to reveal a view of the whole valley; looking to the left one can see straight down to the mountains and the highway that cuts across them, and looking right, the view is of pristine fields and forests, horses and orchards. The setting sun almost seems to paint the landscape with dazzling colors of pink and sienna. The kids relax and sink into the nature around them like little forest imps, fitting in as only they can. Leo loves the great outdoors. Inside, little man fills the house with demands and activities, but here, out in the clear air, he sits patiently in his stroller, looking at everything, and just simply being.
On our walk today, we ran into some neighbors and stayed to chat. One topic lead to another, and as they usually seem to do, ended up with little lion being the subject. The neighbors have a lovely pup who, with great diligence and concentration spent most of the conversation licking Leo all over, to his great delight. So I found myself recounting the story of Leo In Utero, And The Disobedient Dog. Perhaps some of you know this story, but I'll share it again.
Leo has always had a connection with animals, dogs especially, and it started when he was still in my belly. I was probably 8 months or so along with him when we visited the local children's museum. There was an outdoor water park section which Nika loved the best, so I spent a lot of time sitting in the grass, resting my poor abused feet in the gurgling water fountain while she splashed and squealed for hours. Across the way, I had noticed a therapy/seeing eye dog and his master enjoying the park also. Now if you know anything about these kinds of dogs, you will know that they are trained to the max, these dogs don't goof off their jobs. Anyway, the dog was put in a sit/stay while the family splashed around in the wading pool. I felt that the whole time I was sitting here, and he was there, he was watching me. Even when I wasn't looking his way, I felt his alert eyes on me. It was kinda weird. Then when I looked back at him, he stood up, completely disregarding his duty and cut across the numerous wading pools and milling children to make a beeline straight at me. He walked right up, laid down next to me, and rested his head on my belly. On Leo to be precise. Although at the time, I had no real idea of who was in there. It was only four weeks later we found out about Leo's precarious grip on life. The dog"s owner was completely and totally astounded by the dog's behavior. She kept repeating to me, like a litany, how this dog has never, ever, broken a sit/stay command. Well, I thought at the time, there is a first time for everything! But now, years later, I wonder about that. I wonder if the dog knew, if he knew that there was something special about this one. That the dog knew somehow, that Leo would have struggles and trials, and wanted to lend him his strength and his hope. Whatever that dog thought, he forged a link with our little lion, a link that makes Leo connect to nature and animals in a very special way.
The painting at the top I made on a whim, a passing vision or a dream that went through my head. After I finished it, I still wasn't sure what it was all about, but today, I think I figured it out.