“Aussie, what’s going on? You’ve been glum all day.”

“I’m lonely. I don’t have friends.”

“I get lonely too, Aussie. I have some friends, but most aren’t close by.”

“I don’t have anybody to play with.”

“You have Henry the Chihuahua.”

“Like I said, I don’t have anybody to play with.”

“You have me, Aussie.”

“I’m lonely.”

“You saw Oreo the Poodle the other day.”

“He didn’t want to play, he just kept on going after the treats in your belt. I think that’s the reason he likes to join us, for the treats. Some friend!”

“What about Luna, who lives with the horses Gala and T.?”

“She barks too much.”

“What about Francoise, who lives at the other end of the road?”

“She’s French.”


“I don’t talk French. I’m lonely.”

“Aussie, I think everybody’s lonely.”

“Dogs, too?”

“Maybe everything, not just dogs. Mary Oliver wrote a poem about sunflowers:

each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe, 
is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy.”

“You want me to play with sunflowers? They’re only good for hiding rabbits.”

“Maybe that’s why you’re lonely, Auss. You see corn rows and hedges, groves of squash and sunflowers, and all you can think of is whether rabbits are hiding there. What might you find if you dropped rabbit hunting for a while?”

“Boredom. I’d get even lonelier.”

“If you gave all these plants and flowers more attention, you might detect some subtle movement towards you, some bond.”

“Do sunflowers bark?”

“Of course not, Auss.”

“Can they stretch their bellies down, leave their butts up, and wag their tail?”

“I doubt it.”

“Without an invite, I don’t play. Can they chase me up and down?”

“You know darn well they don’t do that. Sunflowers open up to the sun, the source of energy. You know, Aussie, I think that getting together with anything and anybody—trees, plants, sunflowers, even Henry—energizes us. Paying real attention to anything is a door into space and time. Can you enter that completely?”

“I’m lonely.”

“So am I, Auss. So am I.”

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