Inside the house, the air was still warm but outside the breeze is already cooling off the earth and as I stand in the dog park under the quarter moon, I can feel that sensation of air against skin which tells me that for Simone's next walk, the just before bedtime walk, I may actually have to put a jacket on but right now it is fine and the person beside me, whom I can't see in the dimness except for a silhouette against the distant park lights says: Isn't this a beautiful night? I don't mind the heat during the day as long as the night cools down, and I say to her: Yes, it's a beautiful night. It'll be a hot day tomorrow, though, as if any of these words have any significance other than to fill the silence but that is the dance we do.
I've been bringing Simone to the neighbourhood dog park every day for two weeks now. When we first went there, we'd walk in through the double gates and I'd release Simone from the leash and she would immediately hurry over to the other gate pleading with me to leave and when she saw I wasn't walking over to her to assist in her release from that enclosure with all those other strange, unknown and possibly dangerous (in her mind) dogs, she'd slink over to a corner of the fence where there was some scant bush coverage and try to look invisible.
Two nights ago, she finally played with one of the other dogs for about ten seconds. It was a wild realization on Simone's part that other dogs could be fun and she ran in berserker circles about the other dog while the other dog just stared at her obvious momentary lapse of sanity. And tonight, once again, with this woman's dog, this new dog, in the dark, Simone stiffens but with a tail wag, then goes into play pose then runs circles - for twenty seconds this time.
We laugh and the woman congratulates Simone and that's the thing with this park, this new neighbourhood which I'm still not used to. It's fully night now and yet there are still people around in the park talking but not the shrieking, too loud talk of the old neighbourhood of near-barfing teens from the burbs at 2:30 in the morning after the Queen Street bars have closed, and there are people here walking and they're walking straight and at ease and not tripping on pebbles on the sidewalk and falling over onto a neighbour's front lawn and moaning about being abandoned by some boyfriend or how the world can go fuck itself, and here in this park I can hear people laughing, in earnest, and not the aggressive drunken, look-at-me-I'm-having-so-much-fun laughter followed by yelling and glass breaking and car alarms going off.
There is much to recommend in living in an "interesting" neighbourhood. There is also much to recommend in living in a neighbourhood where I can exhale.
My favorite thing now, is to lie out on the lounger on the third floor patio at night under the moon or under the silver red clouds and Simone is nearby on her Kuranda or just lying right on the wooden deck and she doesn't take her eyes off me and every time I make a move or look over at her, she has to get up and come over and nudge my arm for a pat or a scratch and sometimes, yes, I admit it, sometimes I ignore her demanding nose and just keep staring at the moon or the clouds and I exhale the day the week the month the year and when I am done exhaling that breath I take in another and it is like renewal.