My favorite place in the woods

“Open the window! Open the window!”

“I’m not opening the passenger seat window, Henry!”

“Open the window!”

“Henry, it’s 25 degrees outside and windy. It’ll be even colder since we’re in a moving car. Read my lips—I’m not opening the window!”

“How do you expect me to know what’s going on outside?”

“Look out the window, Henry.”

“But my eyes aren’t as good as my ears and my nose. I feel like I’m blind and I’m deaf inside the car. Open the Goddamn window!”

“Here we go again,” sighs Aussie from the back seat. “Can you shut up, Henry? Why do we have to bring him along? The car is much nicer—and warmer—without him.”

“Aussie, I’m taking both of you on a car ride and all I get for it is tsures.”

“That’s because I’m so bored! Why can’t you be a hunter/gatherer? Do you know how much fun I would have? But no, you have to sit in that chair all day and stare and talk to the screen.”

“And she never opens windows!”

“It’s freezing these days, Henry. You know, Auss, hunter/gatherers lived a nomadic life and didn’t always have much food to eat. I doubt their dogs were as well fed as you are.”

“She means they weren’t fatsos like you, Aussie.”

“Shut up, Chihuahua. What fun we would have had! We’d have been running after prey, the wind at our tails. Or I could have jumped into the water to help you fish. What a life we’d have had! And what are you now?”

“I’m a writer, a student, and a teacher, Aussie.”

“And what am I?”

“Nothing useful, that’s for sure.”

“That’s not true, Henry. Aussie’s my companion. Long ago dogs helped us hunt and herd sheep and guard homes and cattle.”

“And what now?”

“My life has changed, and therefore so has yours, Aussie, because you dogs long ago made the decision to live in our world.”

“So now what do I do?”

“Aussie, I think now you’re my companion.”

“And what is that, pray tell?”

“Well, in the morning I come downstairs, we greet each other, I stroke your fur and sometimes give you a belly rub, Auss.”

“Big deal.”

“Later in the morning the three of us walk together and often have a car ride to a store or the gas station or the bank, like now, where they’ll give you dog biscuits.”

“I hate civilized life.”

“In the afternoon you find a puddle of sunlight in the backyard while I work, and you’ll come by and put your head against my leg to say hello.”

“Only when it’s time to remind you to feed me again.”

“After that I take you out again for a shorter walk on the road or else you go with Lori and Henry. Evening comes and you lie on the blue wool blanket that Tim left for you on the black living room chair, and you doze off, and when I finally turn off the lights, I stroke you again and tell you it’s been another great day with Aussie.”

“So that’s it?”

“I guess so, Aussie.”

“When do you open the window?”

“Shut up, Chihuahua. And you call that a life?”

“Yes, Aussie, I call that a life. I might not have many years ago—”

“When you were a hunter/gatherer? I should have known you then.”

“You may not have liked me then, Aussie. The point is, sometimes I walk with both of you and your mouths are relaxed, you look happy, your eyes sparkle, you run around and chase each other—”

“I never chase Henry, it’s always the other way around.”

“—you sniff out the rabbits and chipmunks, you dart after squirrels, or else you make a mad dash after deer—and you’re happy, Aussie. And I’m happy. Spring has begun, the peonies are surviving our freezing temperatures, the sun feels closer to home, the birds are singing, and we three enjoy being together, we enjoy the world. And in those times, Auss, I am profoundly grateful for you and the Chihuahua, as you call him, and for the time I have with you. I don’t wish for anything more.”

“How about a man?”

“Haven’t met anyone yet, Aussie.”


“I don’t much like steak.”

“With all the humans in the world, I have to find somebody who doesn’t like steak.”

“Open the window!”

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