Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Night Rainbows

It's been a long week. Stressful, irritating days at the "day job" and evenings spent working in the dog treat bakery left Charlie feeling a bit neglected. The only thing keeping me going today was the knowledge that I finally had an evening off and I planned to spend it playing with Charlie at the off-leash dog park.

My city doesn't have an "actual" dog park, but there are three parks that have off-leash hours in the morning and then again in the evening between 6 and 9. One of the three parks is actually an island.

I absolutely love having Charlie off-leash on this island. It's situated below the dam in downtown Wausau on the Wisconsin River just before the river becomes Lake Wausau. It's a seldom-used park, even in the height of summer, which means we typically have the place to ourselves. There's only one bridge leading to the island, making it easy to see when other people arrive and I never have to worry about Charlie running off. There are beautiful big old trees on the edge of the island and a huge grassy space in the middle with a couple benches and picnic tables. Sandy shores are available for swimming and fishing and it's a haven for birds of all species. There also seems to be a huge family of woodchucks here, but they pretty much disappear when people (and dogs) arrive.

It's our own little island paradise!

Today was chilly again so I correctly assumed there would be no one else at the park. Charlie and I leisurely strolled around the perimeter as I tossed her tennis ball over and over. She took a few short breaks to wade into the water, getting a drink or just cooling off.

After about an hour of playing and walking, I put Charlie's ball away so she would just relax and explore on her own. I found a soft grassy spot under a still-bare oak tree and laid down on a bed of blooming violets, using my earmuffs for a pillow (yes, it's still cold enough to need earmuffs!).

I watched white clouds slowly march across a blue sky with the setting sun peeking through with rays of sunshine, illuminating buds waiting to bloom on nearby tree branches. I listened to the roaring water of the dam and the softer waves lapping along the shore. Charlie's paws thundered toward me occasionally as she checked to see if her ball was available yet. The songs of birds drifted around me and echoed off the steep river bank of the mainland.

So many birds! I saw an eagle, hawk, crane, woodpecker, red-winged blackbird, crows, robins and so many other little birds that I had no name for. Their songs lulled me into a peaceful reverie. I stretched my arms up, cupped my head with my hands, and let my entire body relax into the shape of the earthy slope beneath me.

I was so comfortable and at peace, I could have fallen asleep. But I began to notice dark clouds moving in toward the northwest. Dark, wispy tendrils of clouds began to snake across the sunset, almost resembling smoke from a fire. The wind picked up slightly and the already cool air, took on a chilly, damp quality.

Not quite ready to leave, I watched the dark clouds begin to dance with the white clouds as the sky took on an ominous glow that only comes from a storm cloud mingling with a sunset. Tiny drops of rain splashed on my face as the outer edge of the dark cloud arrived so I quickly leashed Charlie and we headed back to the car.

Still enjoying my zen mindset when we arrived home, I inhaled the unique fragrance of rain-damp asphalt and smiled. Turning my head toward the sky, letting the tiny raindrops fall on me, I noticed a full rainbow slowly getting more and more vivid as the setting sun made one last appearance for the evening.

All the stress of this week just melted away with an hour appreciating the song of birds, the sound of water, the smell of damp earth and the joy of a Friday night rainbow. What a wonderful way to begin a weekend!