Between thunderstorms, I take Chelsea for a Friday evening walk. The southern sky still grumbles, and ragged lightning still flickers off to the east.
Chelsea doesn’t care. The previous hour’s storm has erased most of the really good scents from the asphalt of the parking lot, leaving her with little to entertain herself. Looking for more diverting odors, she stretches the retractible leash out as far as it will go and noses around in the tall grass by the tennis court fence.
From out of nowhere, a small gray bird swoops down and perches on the leash line.
I freeze. Chelsea does, too. She chases birds whenever she can, but she’s used to seeing them under shrubs or hopping through undergrowth. But a bird on a leash line? Neither of us have ever imagined such a thing.
The bird ignores us, tilting its head from side to side. Chelsea shifts a bit, causing the leash to tremble; the bird rides out the vibrations, bobbing up and down.
Finally, of its own accord, the bird departs abruptly — I feel the “twang” of the leash line as the little creature kicks off — and soars up into the stormy sky.
I look at Chelsea. Chelsea looks at me.
We go on.