Summer of the 49th Discontentment
Karen Bremer Masuda
It is not that all my summers have been full of discontentment, hardly, it just sounds like an attention getter, besides, 49 is my age, there being much discontentment in that fact alone. Sigh after sigh assaults me along with hot heavy air, the epitome of Shizuoka summers, can’t be helped. I suppose what can be helped is attitude, or can it?
I try to be an empathetic person, case in point, taking the plight of my dachshund to heart on our morning walk. I reached down to touch the pavement to check that it wasn’t already too hot for his little paws. I wouldn’t have even considered it hadn’t the neighbor lady, who treats her French Bulldog like a spoiled child, not allowing her to strain herself in any way, piped up with the comment of the possibility of my doggy burning himself on the pavement, while she carried her dog in her arms, looking from me to my doggie when we ran into them on a walk only three days into the hot weather. I fancied a look of righteousness flashed into her eyes.
In this heat, a week and a half later, I cannot deny that burnt paws could be a possibility, but in feeling the pavement, I learned that I could keep my hand there for an extended period of time, still, at nine o’clock in the morning. My poor doggy is 12 years old, which makes him 82 or so in people years, panting as he was throughout our walk, I decided to take into effect, a new plan of leaving for our walk as soon as I get up at six thirty at least for the duration of the summer, which could be for the next three months, most likely so.
As considerate a person as I am, blank white pages stare back at me with the cursor blinking at me demandingly as I do my work. Blank pages get me nowhere, more than likely, fully written pages of my ‘marvelous’ fiction get me nowhere, for it all comes back rejected. Here, I feel my attitude, which I mentioned earlier, comes into play with the utmost importance. I need to keep my attitude sharp with positivity, and a certain amount of self-confidence, not too much, but just the right amount.
I have no problem believing that I am not that writer who weaves magic with their words, the kind I long to be, yet can’t expect to ever reach such heights. Yet on the other hand, I don’t think I am a writer who causes a reader to slam down the book in disgust, not wanting to have to endure another word either. In fact, my writing would be of interest to people. How can I be sure? Because I have been told as much, I have been told that my writing is enjoyable.
For instance, I shall attempt to make my walk this morning with my doggy, interesting. The art of writing takes place when something as mundane as a walk with my dog is turned into an interesting anecdote.
How I Began to Consider my Doggie’s Paws
As we progressed in our usual route with the sun beating down ruthlessly, the words of my neighbor rang in my ears. I became uneasy with fear that walking my dog on this hot pavement might do him irrevocable harm, so that I tried to stick to the shaded areas. Yet an undertow of doubt niggled at my mind too, whispering ridicule. He didn’t seem to mind sniffing around right there on that pavement where it looked to be the hottest, in fact, I had to pull at his leash to get him going so that we could move into a more shaded area, wouldn’t he move on his own if he felt the pavement burning his paws?
As we rounded one corner it struck me that I should check the pavement out for myself. We were in a shaded area at the time so I waited until we reached the middle of, therefore the hottest, so I figured, a stretch of un-shaded area. I reached my hand down, placing my palm flat onto the pavement knowing in my heart that I would not get burned. The pavement felt uncomfortably warm, yes, yet I could leave my hand there without needing to draw it away for a length of time, longer than my doggie’s placement of his paws onto the pavement till his next step.
This act did not ease my conscience as I’d expected. Instead, I found myself considering this route to be entirely unsuitable for my doggie. My condemnation of it spurred from the fact that there was not one bit of grass or dirt on which he could place his paws on this route we took every day. Even at six thirty in the morning grass and dirt would certainly feel better than hard, uncomfortably warm, bumpy concrete. Not only would we take the daily walk at a much earlier time, we would also go to the field along the river where there was no concrete throughout the whole field. Surely doggie would appreciate such a change!
Having decided upon this, we came upon a stretch of road alongside a rice paddy with no shade. If we crossed the street to walk along an ugly concrete wall, the outskirts of a beer bottling factory, we would be in the shade. There happened to be a breeze with a tinge of cool coming off the rice paddy. A stubbornness ensued, and it became a matter of taking the breeze over the shade, even though quite possibly the breeze could still be felt over there on that side of the road. No, the ugly wall could not be tolerated to walk beside for even a moment. For the first time since the act of bending over with open palm to the pavement below, I felt assurance. My doggy wasn’t hurting his padded paws in this sun, on this pavement, so we needn’t walk across the street to the shade, we could enjoy the breeze off the rice paddy first hand! As low down to the ground as my doggie is, surely he would feel the effects the fastest. I resisted squatting down to check the breeze at doggie level.