I drink coffee at all times of the day – but that first cup, that morning coffee, is always the best cup. When I lived alone, I used to start the pot brewing, clean up the kitchen from whatever detritus was left from the previous night, and take that first cup out on the back deck with my young dog and his favorite toy.
Since he was very young, a simple game of fetch has been a winner for this dog. So, I would drink my coffee with one hand and throw the toy with the other. My coffee comes in a cup; his comes, most often, in the form of red rubber Kong toy. When the cup was empty the game was done for the morning. I had things to do, a shower to take, a job to get ready for.
Since I lost my job in July, that game of fetch can come randomly, at any time of the day. When I have freelance work, it’s sometimes what I do to clear my head when I’ve been agonizing over something I’m supposed to analyze and interpret in nice, objective, scientific text. This randomness has driven this poor dog of mine nearly over the edge. Now, if you so much as twitch in the direction of the back door, he’s through the dog door like a rocket, whining, craning his neck toward the kitchen sink, desperate to see you, toy in hand, following him out the back door. You can practically hear his little hear pounding in anticipation. It’s hard to let him down.
This morning, I woke up a full hour and then some earlier than I have been since July. I started the coffee pot, cleaned up the kitchen, found my boots and the red rubber Kong. He had not forgotten. We played fetch in the cold and dark, on the hard ground, bright stars overhead. I watched my breath rise above me and his plume out around him as he ran to the far corner of the yard, chasing his toy. Frost made the ground shine in the fluorescent light, and crunch under his feet and mine. We played till my fingers got numb. He was ready for more; I was only ready for more coffee.