Valentines by the Swake

Valentines Day arrived about 3:00 a.m. on the swake to the soprano howl of the coyotes, the tenor bark of the neighbors' dogs, and the bass bark of the resident watchdog.  The chorus bounced back and forth like the song we sang on Sunday in church as a round.  I lay awake listening in a nearly instant panic that I was going to once again lose at least one good hour of restful sleep in the middle of the night.  You see, my ability to deal with the world with appropriate self-control and an overall sense of well being is very closely linked to the quantity and quality of sleep I get.

I rolled out of bed, and marched to the front door to try and settle Kanti down.  It wasn't very successful.  By the time I got back to bed, not only was Kanti barking there were train like noises coming from the other side of the bed.  Clearly this was not an auspicious start to my Valentines Day.

Drastic action was required; I knew I had to be fearless.  So I put my hand out and poked as the freight train was gathering up another head of steam.  As I poked, I suggested to my Valentine that he should go out in the cold of the night and put Kanti in her crate in the garage so I could sleep.  What I was requesting was not a simple task.  It would entail putting on enough clothing and footwear that he didn't freeze anything important off.  Then he would have to brave the cold, open Kanti's pen door without her shooting past him into the night to chase coyotes, grab her collar, and walk her to the garage.  Once inside the garage, he would have to do the German Shepherd Wrestle to get her into her crate.

Kanti doesn't mind being in her crate, it has been her safe place since she was a puppy. But when coyotes are howling on the perimeter of the swake what dog in their right mind wants to be inside?  Greg managed to get her inside successfully and returned to bed.  I thanked him, it was the least I could do.  My mistake was in adding a footnote to the thank you.

The footnote mentioned that not only had Kanti been barking for a while but that my Valentine, my dog wrestler, had been snoring and I couldn't sleep.  To which he replied with a touch of snark, "So that means two of us don't get to sleep?"

As the words and the tone faded into the blackness of the night, a cold silence descended on the bedroom.  With the silence came a distinct lonely chill.  You could feel it and it wasn't Valentine-like.  Several minutes passed until the quiet was punctuated by a conciliatory, "I'm sorry" from the dog wrestler.

The unspoken expectation was that the extension of an apology would be welcomed and the warmth would return to the room.  I didn't embrace it, I left it hanging in the night, and the room remained chilled.  I was foolish and stubborn, and I rolled over to try to sleep a bit more while the coyote chorus rose and fell across the swake.

My body slept but my heart was uneasy.  There was unfinished business of the heart.  This was a little blip in the thirty-odd years of marriage but that sense of unease and discontent has probably been the saving grace of the relationship.  Neither of us likes that feeling of being disconnected and out of tune so we fixed it before breakfast.

Both of us swallowed our pride and Valentines Day was a good day on the swake.  It was a day to add to the records; we celebrated with lobster tails for dinner, we visited with the neighbors, and learned again what it means to show love and to accept love.