Amid The Dog Days of Summer

LA MESA -- I can't see the dog water dish outside my store at Lifesighs Cards.  Well, I can if I get up and walk toward the door, but sitting here at my hostess stand- desk combo, I can't see it.  What I can see, however, and what enables me mostly not to worry if it's there or not are the shadows of the dogs who stop by.  And of course seeing someone standing by my door with a leash pulling in the direction of the bowl is also a pretty good indicator that all is right with the Lifesighs world as far as dogs getting their water during business hours is concerned.

Someone stopped by my store today, someone of whom I am very fond.  I had not seen him in a long time, it seemed, and so the first thing I asked him about was his mother, as I had heard he had gone to visit her back East.  And then that look came over his face as he talked about his mom.

What I love about talking to people about the people they adore is that look that comes over their faces when they do.  It's as if part of them is standing right there in front of you, but the other part, the sweeter, almost better part, like the center of a cinnamon roll, is right beside that one they love and have loved all their lives.  There is no separation between hearts that love. Geography does not and cannot separate love.  

As you can see from the title, this article began in my head as an article about the dog days of summer.  I was going to use the water dish as an intro to it, and you, the reader, would be able to picture assorted panting and parched dogs of La Mesa lining up to drink from my (formerly) disappearing dog water bowl.   The Dog Days of Summer, that expression that conjures up thoughts of hot sweaty nights,  dogs lying in the shade, heat radiating off the pavement and, from my childhood memory, tar patches in the streets turning to the consistency of nicely softened bubble gum.  

But when I began actually writing, I noticed the article was going in an entirely different direction than what I planned.  This wasn't going to be about the Dog Days of Summer at all. ( And I'm sure you all knew this, that the dog days merely pertain to the belief of ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians that the dog star Sirius, which rises with the sun this time of year in the northern temperate latitudes,  added to the already hot sun of summer. )  It's not true, of course, but sometimes the truth of a thing hides beneath something else, as I found out recently while making a sketch for a painting.

While sketching a girl's face, I stepped back and looked at it only to see beneath the surface of the girl another drawing that was completely unrelated to her. I could see a mother cat posing for a portrait with her little kitten.  Where on earth did that come from,  I wondered.   Having no real interest in drawing and painting the cat and kitten,  I then lost interest in the painting all together.  But then something happened and it changed my perspective on the painting entirely: a little tiny boy went to heaven.

This past week some dear and precious friends of my family, of my kids and I, lost their little boy to illness.  He was a little bitty boy, not yet two.  He has a beautiful sister, and grandparents and parents and cousins and uncles and aunts and now he has grown little tiny wings and headed heavenward. He is being missed profoundly, not only by those whose lives were filled with his,  but by people like me who love the ones doing the real missing.

So when I got ready to go to work today,  I walked by my canvas with the sketch of the momma cat and her kitten and decided a thirty minute paint session might be a good way to soothe my senses before I opened my store.  I began to paint.  I painted the background yellow,  a shade of yellow that is irresistibly happy and warm like a daffodil or a stick of butter.   I painted the momma and her little kitten a shade of turquoise blue that I think of as old car turquoise or the color sky above a lake in a vintage postcard that says "Wish you were here."  Colors that made me feel better just for the looking at.   And as I washed off my brushes after my thirty minutes were up, the yellow paint mixing with turquoise into yet another beautiful color in the sink, it struck me how wonderful it was that this new image had appeared on the canvas.  A mother and son.  Inseparable.  Like my friend and his mother back East!  

Painting the cat and kitten made me think about how strong love is,  and how mother love, father love, family and friend love is far stronger than anything on earth.  Love helps us survive in times that feel unbearable.   It's love that perfectly maintains and strengthens our sweeter and better selves. It's love that's the sunny, irrepressible daffodil yellow in our lives, the deep turquoise of vintage sky in our lives.     It's Love that keeps us connected no matter how far apart we might seem to be...

And I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that it's really Love that fills a dog water bowl.  Especially during the dog days of summer. 

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Tags: Chris Shea, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, Lifesighs, On La Mesa, San Diego real estate


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