June 15, 2008
The walls of my courtyard are starting to look African and just wait and see what I am going to do to them next. My own little piece of Africa right here in the Desert Southwest. The color on your monitor may not be an exact match to the warm, deep ochre as they are when I look out my window. I took the pictures late in the evening because it was so hot today (44 degrees C) and it still is, but in some strange way I like the hot summers here.
The harsh light at midday reminds me of the Sheltering Sky, by Bernardo Bertolucci, a film I have never quite forgotten from the early 90's. Perhaps that's what has shaped my idea for my wall.
When I decided to take a dog I was convinced that a dog is a dog, not a little hairy human with an overactive tongue who likes to spread gob all over you whenever possible. I am not her ‘Mommy’. If she was my offspring she would not be as sleek and delicately built as she is. She would not have a short-haired coat that always looks trim and groomed. She would probably look a lot more like a red (L'Oreal Number 26), out of shape Lab, huffing and puffing while the silver ghost sprints by at the speed of light.
My dog and I are simply not a visual match.
Today we went to a Dog Pool Party and Athena immediately found the steps of the pool and if I threw a ball she would get in, swim and retrieve the ball, drop it at my feet and we would start all over again. All very genteel, just the way she likes it. As time went by more dogs joined the party and soon it was all just one big and continuous splash, water and dogs everywhere.
After a little while, I noticed that Athena was the only dry dog there. Even the jittery little poodle energetically made wild dashes and launched herself straight into the water to grab a ball. Every time Athena made a move to go down the steps there was either a dog going in or coming out and she looked back at me anxiously, trying to telepathically communicate, ‘make them go away’ with that goofy look she has when she stresses.
Suddenly I realized that she reminded me of myself as a child, a little timid, somewhat shy, and certainly not a boisterous pool bomber. ‘I wish they would get out of the way’, I could see in the bubble over her head.
There I was, looking back at my mother; not bold enough to push my way through the other children to claim my space. My mother could probably read the bubble over my head too, feeling as powerless as I did now.
For the first time in my life I felt what other mothers must feel and it took me totally by surprise that I felt so protective. I glowered at a rowdy dog that made enormous belly flops and was not being careful at all by landing right on Athena’s head. ‘That’s my baby, you bully! Stay away from her’, the bubble over my head said.
The pool party has set me thinking however. Did I teach my long-legged pup to be so prissy and cautious or is she like this by nature? Is the bubble over my telling her to always wear flip flops in hotels and never sit down on unfamiliar toilet seats? Worst of all, have I finally turned into a doggy Mommy?