Varieties of belonging.

When I get up in the morning, I get three greetings and an offer of coffee.  The dog thumps his tail on the floor; if he's active and awake already, he runs to the others to tell them I'm still here.  We sit at the table.  We eat our breakfasts at various speeds.  I peel off to the back porch and continue reading while my excellent friends continue packing.  "Hurry, get your camera," she says at some point, gesturing to the light beyond the porch.

On the way home from the officehouse, I see the light on the other side of the hill; the green on the far side of the darkening woods is still bright with evening.  I walk down one hill, walk up another, cross around through a woods, come up an ancient driveway.  Two deer hear me approach and split, one to one side of my path, the other to the other.  They hightail it away.

How good it is, I think to myself, to have people waiting at the end of my walk.  How good it will be to have one of them still here, even if he's furred and four-legged, at the end of the weekend, and for the year. My own reason to come home at a reasonable time each night: the very thought is a quiet stagger.