A spring evening such as this is undescribable. The air is filled with just a touch of warmth and chill. My porch swing makes a methodical sound as it swings back and forth. There are two cats sitting perched on the picnic table, they seem annoyed by the squeak of the swing. Last year they would not have been so comfortable. Last year on spring evenings like this my home was guarded. My best friend lived in his house at the edge of the woods. Guardian of forest and yard. Not squirrel nor stray cat dare enter with out him heading out to defend his territory. Together we watched my children grow. He happily stood alert thru storms and child like party’s. Never did he voice a criticism or question my choices. I loved sharing this yard and my life with him. No matter what trials we charged thru he was there, always supportive, always strong. I could yell and he would listen. I could cry and he would comfort. I could rant and rave and be totally wrong yet never saw judgement in his eyes. Now as I rise from the swing and head to the woods I feel the loneliness. You know the feeling when memories drop you all to suddenly and your standing in the present. There may be a tear at the corner of my eye, as I stand by his empty home. Cob webs now look out at me instead of those beautiful brown eyes. The winters cold had kept me from standing here most of the winter. The sounds and signs of spring have awakened the need to see you. Today I will sit under our tree, I will talk as we always did. I will remember the kindness in your eyes when I was sad. I will remember that fierceness in your eyes when someone dared come to close. Your willingness to keep me safe. The trip down memory lane is filled with tears and smiles. Suddenly the cats jump and dart from the table. I to stand up and look to see what had startled them. As I looked around the tree line I could not see nor hear a thing. The cats however stared straight into the door way of his old home. As I brushed the leaves from my pants and a small tear from my eye. I started to walk back to the house and stumbled on something. When I looked down my heart skipped a beat. There by my foot was his little red ball, I looked around as I knew I had put them away when he passed. Many hours my friend, my companion, my dog and I had tossed his little red ball. A cool wind blew thru my hair as I bent to pickup the ball. A feeling of comfort came over me as I tossed it back towards his house. For mere seconds my mind of 49 years started to reason all the scenarios that could have caused that little red ball to get into my yard. Anything could have startled the cats. But suddenly I knew in my heart that it was him, though his journey changed and his path swayed from mine he was still here. His spirit and love did not cease with his last breath. His essence stays here and guards me still. Tonight I am comforted as I head into my house for the night. As I climb into bed I can hope that tomorrow I will again stumble on the little red ball just laying in the yard…………. Land of Rose

The Skipper

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