I hear rolling thunder

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It has been almost two years since we have taken my third great dog, Harry, to Compass Lake.

When my grandchildren came along, the dog had to take a back seat in our lives. Despite his great love of the lake, it was a bit much with a Jack Russell terrier in the same house with screaming infants.

Finally, this was his weekend. Our busy summer schedule had a break, and Mary Lou and I jumped in the car with Harry on Friday afternoon and headed down. With not much more packed than a swimsuit, we arrived just in time to take a cruise around the lake.

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While Harry refuses to get in the swimming pool at home, he loves the water at the lake. He walks in and out, swims frequently, rides on the jet ski and boat, and will join me on a leisurely float paddling along the shore, riding on top of my stomach, which is a better view than it used to be.

I am not sure what drives him so crazy about jet skis and people tubing. He barks from the moment we leave the dock in the boat until we return, running non-stop between the bow of the boat and the swim platform in the rear. His tail is in overdrive and those nine-year-old eyes look bright like a puppy again.

We swam together later that evening reminding me of how he swam out to me as a puppy on his first visit without me realizing he was even there. When those tiny claws scraped along my side as he got to me was the closest I have ever come to jumping out of my skin.

After an afternoon of swimming and barking, he hit the sack or I should say couch on the front porch. You could occasionally see him peeking in the window to the den, but he was clearly spent. I must admit I was too.

After sleeping some nine hours, I snuck out of the house the next morning to visit the nearest great biscuit place and brought breakfast back. Later we moved to the dock where you could see the gathering clouds all around. This would not be a hot steamy day at the lake.

It was only mid-morning when I heard the first clap of thunder, deep and distant. An occasional shower would pass along but no storm, just the promise of one. I made my way to the hammock since there is no shame in a morning nap at the lake.

It is sometimes hard for me to relax, especially coming right from work. I used to say that it took three days on vacation before I could totally decompress and begin to enjoy doing nothing. Not the case this weekend.

I drifted in and out of sleep, Harry jumping in the hammock when there was no jet ski passing by to bark at. The work I brought down to look at remained unopened. Mary Lou read, and Harry and I snored. It wasn’t even noon.

A three-salad lunch on the dock followed. Mary Lou liked the broccoli best, while Harry and I preferred the chicken salad. The lake was calm, with an occasional shower, an occasional boat, and the low but constant rumble of thunder in the distance.

It was mid afternoon before the thunder became louder, more insistent. The gray clouds with showers became darker, more ominous. Mary Lou moved to the house, but Harry and I stayed out on the dock as the storm approached from the southeast.

I never miss the chance to watch a thunderstorm at Compass Lake from the dock. It approaches and surrounds you. You can see the line of rain envelope the far shore like a marching army headed directly toward you.

The temperature drops, the wind picks up, and then the harder and louder sound of the rain hitting the tin roof of the dock. This will be a good one.

Soon you could see nothing but rain. The nearest visible house was only four doors away. Heavy rain became even heavier until it was a flat-out deluge. It stayed that way for 20 or 30 minutes.

In the meantime, Harry, the fearless Jack Russell terrier willing to take on the biggest, meanest dogs around, cowers with the sound of each clap of thunder. He never met a storm he wasn’t afraid of and usually knows they are coming long before I do.

He finally jumped up in the hammock and snuggled right next to me. I covered him with a towel to keep the blowing rain away and held him close. Slowly he calmed down, put his head in the crook of my arm, and finally at the height of the storm, he went to sleep.

Harry helped us be better parents and grandparents. He was the only boy I had to play with in a house full of girls. He gives way more than he takes and grudgingly relinquishes his place as the favorite when my grandchildren are around.

Looking down at him, trusting me even as we could hear the rolling thunder, I was glad that it was just us this weekend. For nine years, he has given his best. He deserves a little time just on his own.