Spring is a short season in South Louisiana. The time between cold winter temperatures and blazing hot summers is measured in weeks, not months, and I'm determined to enjoy these rare, perfect days while they last. I bought a cap with a bill on it to shield my eyes from the bright morning light, and I put it on and sit outside while Butch and Levi roam the yard and pace the fence line, making sure nothing has changed since the night before. I can hear traffic sounds in the distance, but the beauty of the birds' songs overpowers the noise and captures my attention. One bird calls over and over for "Ricky, Ricky, Ricky," and another calls, "Hear me! Hear me!" They flit through the air, darting in and out of trees, and their hustle-bustle energizes me.
Late at night I stand outside with the dogs for the last time of the day and listen to the cooing of a lone dove and the hoot of an owl. The dove's call is a sound I remember from childhood, from late summer evenings spent playing outside with my sister and friends from the neighborhood until darkness descended and our parents called us back inside for baths and bedtime. All these years later I still associate it with bedtime.
The dogs return to the back door without being called and we come inside. While I give Levi a treat and put him in his crate, Butch makes his way to the bedroom, where he waits in the doorway until I get there with his biscuit. In a few short minutes both dogs are settled down and ready to sleep. I climb into bed, pull up the covers, turn out the lamp, and lie there in the darkness just thinking for a moment. I think about the fact that another day has passed, a beautiful day. I take stock of my emotions at that moment and find mostly love and gratitude. I roll over, pull Kadi's collar out from under my pillow and hold it in my hand, close to my heart, as I drift off to a peaceful sleep.