I push open the storm door. Ulysses follows me down the stairs until we reach the grass and he bolts past me to play in the yard. His terrier legs stretch and bend as he runs laps around trees and alongside the new pine fence. None of his doggie neighbors appear so he starts to sniff the perimeter.
The air I breathe feels cool and clean. I walk across the yard, crunching the fallen leaves under my sneakers. I search the grass. There’s one. I move to the left and reach down to pick up a worn tennis ball. No. That’s just a yellow maple leaf.
I scan the yard until I find a ball. Ulysses looks at me as I say his name and toss the ball away. He runs after it, snaps it up in his jaws and kill-shakes it. Then drops it and trots away to sniff some more.
I sigh and recover the ball from its camouflage of yellow leaves. I throw it for the dog. This time he retrieves it and struts back to me, but when I say drop it, he grrrs and fakes me out. He wants to play chase.
We do. We run through the backyard. I’m clapping at him and swiping at his tail, and he’s dodging and changing directions in the leaves until he tires and lies down on the grass.
I sit in a chair and let my eyes relax. The greens and yellows of the lawn, leaves, and tennis balls overlap with the brown fuzzy terrier in the middle of my vision. I gaze ahead.