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A Walk Before Dawn

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Today, Quinn and Pepper are taking me for a walk before dawn.

It’s five o’clock this morning. The day awakens in darkness and foggy mist, silent and aware.

The air is cool and wet. Glistening, clear droplets of dew are strung like beads along the upright stems of crimson fountain grass. Lavender and rosemary, revered in the ancient world, grow thick and strong along the hillside near our home.

Polly Butte rises gray and brown, high in the fog against an iron gray sky to the southeast. The San Jacinto range is a more distant purple and dusty blue against the lightening glow of dawn to the northeast. The San Bernardinos and San Gabriels are snow covered, rocky wilderness peaks, far to the north and northwest.

Today, Quinn and Pepper are taking me for a walk before dawn.

They do not pay much attention to the mountains all around that hold this valley as if in protective hands. Their interest is in everything within one foot of earth. They move quickly, here and there, snuffling noses pushing into every hidden place, touching, turning over, understanding things unnoticed by others, making friends with everything.

Quinn and Pepper don’t want to keep anything they find. They just want to know its meaning. When they understand a thing’s place and purpose, they move onto other discoveries.

Life is eternally interesting and wonderful to Quinn and Pepper, adventurers who never seem to slow down or become weary of rushing on to new discoveries just up ahead. They fulfill their purpose in this world so perfectly, just as they were meant to do.

Ask the animals, and they will teach you, says a passage in the old testament. Quinn and Pepper are wonderful teachers.

In the quiet, peaceful, early morning mist of this new day, we soon come to the limit of our home boundary, and begin to encroach upon the territory of other homelands.

As the road begins to touch a neighbor’s boundary, suddenly, like setting off a tripwire, a cacophony of barking dogs, braying donkeys, snorting horses, and loud voices of other creatures erupts in the cool of early morning. Thumping feet of llamas, alpacas, horses, and donkeys rush to the wire fence enclosing a neighbor’s yard to see who’s disturbing the tranquility of the morning.

I say, “Quinn and Pepper, let’s go.” I turn around. They turn around. We all head back down the road from where we came. The world begins to quiet down again.

I look back. The llamas and alpacas (related to camels, you know) look down their long noses with disdain in their blue eyes as we discretely move back down the road. Arabs and North Africans believe that camels (and evidently their llama and alpaca cousins) acquired their haughty, holier than thou look, when they realized that they, alone among all the creatures of earth, are the only ones who know the true name of God.

Quinn and Pepper and I hurry down the road, and reach the welcoming safety and warmth of home.

The fireplace is lighted. Quinn and Pepper quietly park themselves in ceremonious comfort before the dancing flames. Eyes close peacefully to the sounds of soothing Christmas music. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and that wonderful orange taste of Grand Marnier, is such a joy in the morning.

The sweet scent of cranberry mandarine candles fills the room. The embrace of a softly cushioned rocking chair reminds me of how thankful I am for life and love, and a quiet fire shared with Quinn and Pepper, faithful friends of all the world.