From the crest of the hill the road wound down and to the south before bending back toward the west. Meadows swept up the hills on both sides to woods. Mist rose from the trees. Above the ridges at the end of the valley dark clouds grew darker by the moment. The wind picked up. The storm was headed right for us, preparing to punch down the valley. I should have been double-timing back to shelter, over a mile away, but at 200 yards there was something large and misshapen on the road. A vertical shape, two feet high, maybe three, unmoving, that had neither the shape nor the quivering alertness of dog or cat. I could not decipher it. The sky now showed movement. Wheeling above the southern meadows, above the ridges, pin-wheeling in long glides, three turkey vultures rode the wind. Ahh. On the road, a kill, obscured — the turkey vulture now recognizable. It stretched its wings and two hops later, flapping hard, it caught the hard wind and rose into a greenish-blue light. Wolfie, more patient with age and training, watched it rise, tracking it with his intense gaze.
The storm caught us in the open. Within seconds both of us were drenched, my boots filling with water as the soaked ground spilled all the rain onto the road. Terrific field dog that he is becoming, Wolfie now looked miserable and often tried to break for trees or bushes, any place where he might keep the torrent out of his face. Locusts and sycamores were roaring in swings and shudders above us. I picked him up and carried him, his neck nestling into my right shoulder and then dipping down like a bird hiding its face under its wing.
We walked like this for several hundred yards, to the base of the steep hill we had to climb to reach home. A stream had taken the roadway. We walked up, fast, in a late afternoon that had grown into a deep twilight filled with wind and water.
Onto the top and striding at top speed, we hurried toward
home, the white of its second story in sight. Now unleashed, he raced through a
field, dodged the garden and … stopped on the lawn. He had found the Frisbee.
Waiting for me, he juggled it in his mouth. There was not one dry spot on me …
so why not. “Thank you” I said and took it from him. He politely released it,
backed up ten feet and waited, his gaze rapt, unbroken, filled only with the
red Frisbee, which I now released into the drenching air where it rose above
his sprinting form.