The sky is gray, and the wind is gusty but warm.  It isn’t raining, which makes this an excellent time for a walk.  

Chase’s fur whips this way and that in dancing cowlicks as he prances down the sidewalk ears up, nose to the wind.  A seagull surfs the turbulence above, his lonely call making me nostalgic.  What am I missing the most today?  Such thoughts are not helpful now, when there are still so many darklong months ahead.  

I turn my attention a tiny flock of birds.  They dive and dart in bird formation until they alight on a skeletal tree.  Similar in shape and color to the last leaves still clinging to the branches, the birds appear to vanish the moment they land.  

Chase stops to investigate a patch of earth.  I assume he’s looking at the yellow leaf, which is twitching, threatening to launch into the breeze.  Suddenly, he lunges, and plunges his nose into a dent in the soil and then begins, with sudden fury, to dig.  Surprised, I stop him and we move on.  

A clump of pampas grass reaches out to us as we pass.  Undulating like an enormous, soft paintbrush, the tattered plumes brush my elbow and shoulder.

Even the plants seem lonely this season.