Suburban Wild – Joanne Furio

My husband and I walk our dog up to the elementary school that abuts the woods. Once our dog, who is half Siberian Husky, chased after a herd of deer. This worries us. Once he sees prey, his breed takes over and he takes off. Coyotes live in the woods.

I walk through a field that a gym teacher probably marked with white lines that look like the boundaries of a soccer goal. “It’s amazing,” I say, “It’s twilight and there’s not even a mosquito in the grass to bite your ankles.” We have only lived in California for a decade and still marvel at its seemingly bug-free climate. In New York we would have been eaten alive.

My husband throws a tennis ball, a high pop, and the dog keeps his eye on it until it falls and he jumps midair to meet it, his tail a counter weight. It is a beautiful dance, dog and ball in a mid-air tango, the dog taking the woman’s part, responding to the whims of the ball.

Tonight the wild turkeys are loud, but we cannot see them. The dog stops to notice and I fear he will be off. Once we saw a herd of turkeys mosey down the hill, clucking and pecking at the soil. Luckily the dog was tethered.

“Maybe we should put him on his leash.”

“Just a few more throws.”

The play ends with a ritual. My husband pulls out a plastic container from a small backpack and holds it under a stream of water from the same porcelain fountain sweaty children drink from at lunchtime. The dog drinks sloppily, splashing the concrete. My husband dries the bowl with a paper towel he carries just for that purpose and returns the bowl and towel to the backpack. I leash the dog and we head up stairs that lead to the next street. As we move closer to the turkeys, the dog’s ears stand straight up. He strains at the leash.

The sounds grow louder at the top of the stairs, where a cul-de-sac ends before a cluster of low-rise condos. We don’t see the turkeys in the trees beyond, only hear them comforting themselves with roosting cries that grow softer and softer. We stop to take it in.  Kadada-do, kadada-do, kadada-do.

Joanne FurioJoanne Furio is a veteran journalist whose interest in the relationships of ordinary people and the everyday carry over into her creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in The Believer, The New York Times and Ms. and on the websites Juked and Mary: A Journal of New Writing, among other publications. She lives in Berkeley, California.