“Are you off again?”

“ I’m sorry, Aussie, I’m going down to Greyston in Yonkers, New York, to meet with some of the bakers in the Greyston Bakery and the general staff.”

“What for?”

“I want to see what’s needed and how I could help. The Zen Community of New York started Greyston 40 years ago. Back then we were so naïve. All we could think about was how to be enlightened. Bernie, of course, had other ideas and he brought us to southwest Yonkers and that became our practice instead. Greyston has deep spiritual roots, whether they know it or not, and I’d like to see it up close.”

“Do they have dogs there, Boss?”

“I don’t think so, though I used to bring my dog, Woody, there.”

“If they don’t have dogs, who cares?”

“You know, Aussie, for a while we had offices in a nunnery of Sacramentine nuns and—”

“Are nuns dogs?”

“No, Aussie, they most certainly are not.”

“Then I don’t care—”

“Just listen, Auss. The Sacramentines were a cloistered order, which means they couldn’t go anywhere.”

“They couldn’t run and play? They couldn’t chase deer?”

“They had to stay in, Auss.”

“Could they roll on their backs to be petted?”

“I’m not sure about that. My point is, Aussie, they couldn’t talk or be with us, a fence separated us from them. But sometimes during lunch I’d go out with Woody and approach that fence. They’d be on their side of the fence and we’d be on ours. They’d be wearing their all-black habits, which many nuns don’t wear anymore—”

“Their breed was all black, Boss?”

“In a manner of speaking, Aussie.”

“Most of me is black. Am I a nun too?”

“Don’t be silly, and stop interrupting. They couldn’t talk to me—”

“Why not?”

“Because they were cloistered, separated from the world.”

“They didn’t play even among themselves, Boss, like me and Harry??

“I think they could say a few words to each other, but not much. Mostly, Aussie, I think they talked to God.”

“Is God a dog?”

“Some people think so because God is supposed to be all about love.”

“I’m not all about love, Boss.”

“Truer words have never been spoken, Auss.”

“Did you see me frightening that black bear away in the middle of the night?”

“I didn’t see the bear, Aussie, but I sure heard you, as did half the town, I’m sure.”

“I don’t want the bear to bring down the birdfeeders.”

“Because you love birds, Aussie?”

“No, because the birdfeeders attract squirrels, and then I could kill them.”

“I’m trying to tell you this story, Aussie.”

“Get to the point.”

“So the nuns couldn’t talk to me, but whenever Woody approached the fence their hands would go through the bars and stroke his golden fur, and they would make these cooing sounds.”

Coo-coo? Not ruff-ruff?”


“And then what happened, Boss?”

“Nothing. That’s the story.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes. I still remember their pale thin fingers because they spent most of their days indoors praying.”

“Are there still nuns at the place you’re going to?”

“They moved out years ago, Auss. They’re probably dead by now. Their order was dying out.”

“Don’t worry about the house, Boss, I will protect it. No bears tearing down birdfeeders in my watch. Did you see the rainstorm we had? Didn’t stop me from rushing out the dog door and barking like  crazy, while Harry barked from behind the door. What a wimp!”

“Aussie, try to be careful around bears.”

“They should be careful around me! I’m not afraid of anything. Not bears, not foxes, not rain or snow, nothing. I got soaked to the skin, but who cares? Once the bear ran for his life I came back in, jumped on the sofa, and fell asleep. Made that sofa awfully wet, though.”

“Try not to destroy the sofa, Auss.”

“It’s all worth it, Boss. Have a good trip.”