I’m up in Humboldt at our cabin in Big Lagoon for a few days in April. I’m here to start a new project on the history of the area, but there’s also time to unwind too. I have Wilbur, our eight-year-old terrier mix, with me for company.
My first day I wake up to gray skies and a fog-shrouded lagoon, an edgy chill launched off the placid ocean. But by early afternoon the sky has cleared pale blue and there’s a full warm sun as far as I can see up and down the coast.
I walk Wilbur down to the lagoon. He sniffs, I look everywhere. The spring flowers are glad to have made it through another dour winter. The hedges are ablaze with wild iris, purple and red poppies, and white daisies.
The lagoon is full and fat, ready to burst its banks. I walk to the end of the jetty and lie down on my back. Wilbur agonizes from the shore. He doesn’t like to be in or on water, and he’s phobic about gaps or metal on the ground. To get the twenty yards to me he needs to walk on the planks of a swaying wooden jetty, over metal attachments and gaps that he imagines will suck him into unknown depths.
I call him to me, a whistle that signals food and comfort, and he eventually dares all. With his stomach almost on the ground and his ears pinned back, he slowly, oh how slowly, sidles and tacks his away along the jetty until he can burrow his body into mine. We both lay flat on the warm wood, eyes closed against the sinking sun. I relax by listening to Wilbur’s anxious panting, the lapping waves under my head, the steady rumbling and shushing from the ocean a quarter of a mile away, my slowing breath, and, eventually, Wilbur’s too.