She is up early again. I hear her meek whine wafting up along two staircases, through two ceilings and two pillows, subtly permeating the backdrop of my dream until my eyes open. I wait. It must have been a dream. Then I hear it again, just as my eyes are drifting closed.
It is still dark. I squint this way and that, trying to bring the digital clock on my dresser into focus. Five something. I rise slowly, pulling on sweat pants, turtle neck, and wool socks. Half-way down the stairs I realize I can’t see, so I go back up to turn on the light and head down again.
I look down the second flight of stairs and hear Izzy whine in the darkness. I back up again to turn on another light. This one is sufficient to find my way to the mud room where it gently glistens in my puppy’s eyes. She is sitting up in her crate, looking at me with a big smile, soft floppy ears lifted, as if to say “time to play.”
“Come on you goof ball,” I say as I let her out and attach her leash. It is completely dark outside. With a sigh I sit down to grapple with my snow boots. Scarf, long down coat, hat with ear-flaps, and mitts come next. After waiting patiently by the door through all this, Izzy starts to whine with impatience while I struggle to open the door bolt in my slippery wool mitts.
The bolt opens with a bang and Izzy races ahead, pulling the leash out of my hands as she sprints to the back yard. I take my time walking down the back steps, holding onto the handrail for stability and direction in the dark. I step down onto the snow and look in the direction Izzy ran, easily spotting her golden coat against the bright moonlit ground. She is sniffing and walking in circles, trying to find the perfect spot. When she hears my footsteps, she looks up and I encourage her, “go on, go pee.” She immediately recommences sniffing and pacing.
I look up to the night sky. Behind the nearly full moon, the sky is still black. No stars are visible, revealing our proximity to dawn. I inhale a lungful of night air and let out a long sigh, watching my breath-clouds ascend through the cold air. I do it again and again, mesmerized by its slow ascent and dispersion. It seems like I am standing just below the moon, that I could reach up and touch it. I go through the motion, just for fun, my mitt creating a momentary full eclipse. Then I inhale and exhale some more, still looking up, studying the illusion of the moon slowly sucking up my breath-clouds.
When I look down, Izzy is sitting beside me also looking at the moon, its white shape visible in her rapt eyes. She is calm. All is quiet. My shoulders shudder as the cold seeps through my pants, and Izzy looks at me.
“Hi sweetie. That sure is a beautiful moon, isn’t it?” She stands up in agreement and waits while I reach down to pick up her leash. We lead each other back inside, and by the time I remove my second boot she is already curled up on her bed in the crate. “Good girl. Sleep some more,” I whisper as I head back to my own bed easily finding my way in the early morning moonlight.