There’s a ridge behind our house where a tree has fallen. A carpet of grass and wildflowers rolls down a hillside into a wide valley, then up and over the hills on the farther side.
Last winter, I sat on the fallen tree and threw sticks into the valley, while the dog charged down the hillside, now covered in snow, and retrieved them, dropping them at my feet.
It’s summer now. The wildflowers are gone and the grass is tall and hollow.
Yesterday I cut a path back to the top of the ridge. The dog came with me.
I sat on a large rock and threw a stick. The dog retrieved it, but when he reached the rock, he wouldn’t let it go. He whined.
“What’s the matter, boy? What do you want?”
He turned and walked further up the ridge. Back to the fallen tree. To the exact spot where I sat five months ago, where we played fetch.
He dropped the stick at where my feet would have been, had I been sitting. Then turned to look at me upon the rock, and waited.
It makes me proud and sad to know that he remembers that day last winter.
That maybe when he dies, his life will have been endless memories of us playing fetch. I hope he knows how grateful I am that he spent it that way, and how valuable it was.