I watched as Marco lifted Elly up into his truck. She could no longer make
the jump. Achille could. The crush and crunch as earth gave way beneath the wheels; the bang
and bounce as age-old stone would not. The truck’s complaints as down they rumbled, man and dogs,
the road a rut that sliced the vineyard off from untamed grass, a curve left, and then
the groaning stopped at the wire-fence gate. Marco left the cab door agape,
his eagerness renewed to walk among the tomato rows, the beans on poles, the broad
zucchini leaves, the lettuces—now with his new replacement knees. Meanwhile
the two dogs disembarked from the rear. Elly could still jump down, though not up,
her hind legs stiff with senior Shepherd disease. As Marco moved to the shed to feed the chickens
and the guinea fowl, the dogs meandered among gnarled trunks, unkept fruit trees, and grasses,
gradually winding their way back up the hill, “sauntering,” as Thoreau would say,
Elly, still in the lead, Achille following, his head to the ground for scents of interest.
By the time Marco had done his chores, closed the garden gate, and turned the truck around
to start back up the rut, the dogs were dozing in the shade at the top, Achille, middle-aged
and Elly, with her old knees. Time is told in many ways.