Chihuahuas in autumn

[November] gave a party,

The leaves by hundreds came,

the chestnuts, oaks and maples --

their costumes all aflame.

Miss Weather lead the dancing,

Professor Wind the band,

the guests were all aflutter,

and danced off—hand in hand.

--George Cooper

I adore my chihuahuas. They are silly and loving and provide great companionship. I lead, they follow. I sit, they snuggle. And as the owner of two, I find them especially desirable this time of year when I frequently chill. I grab a comforter, throw it across my lap, and they dive under with glee. Their little bodies feel like hot water bottles.

Given the opportunity, they are sun worshipers. July through September they seek out warm places to nap and play. I often find them stretched out on a spot of carpet bathed in sun or laying on the paved walkway next to my home when I work nearby in the flower beds. Fall and winter they lay on the central heating vents and are agreeable to wearing sweaters when I take them in the car.

Getting them to go outside, when there is wind and rain, is quite another matter. Facing these weather factors, I must drum up enthusiasm as we move toward the door. I clap my hands, and encourage them to go outside to play with the bunnies. If I don’t head outside to face the elements, they stand at the door frame, sniff the air, and wag their tales in amusement.

To be honest, my new Cabela’s rain jacket, complete with a cool visored hood, is the dead giveaway. Less than desirable elements await! But chihuahuas are easily convinced that a foray outside might also be fun, so they scoot out the door and down the steps, defying rain and wind if I lead the way.

Each time the sun broke through the clouds this week I headed outside to take in the fall colors and provide the dogs with needed exercise. They don’t like getting their tiny feet wet and they like having damp bellies even less, but they accompanied me anyway. I laughed as I watched them delicately prance from leaf to leaf, as a child might leap across stepping stones in a stream.

And I marveled at the way the wind has dispersed the leaves of gold, copper, and red so evenly across our property.

With so many leaves on the ground, I pondered those that remain on the trees. How do they have the strength to hang on? I suppose I’d hang on too, for the momentary thrill of a ride through the air only results in a hard landing and eventual disintegration. When you are a leaf and you hit the ground, the message is clear: the end is here.

When you don’t hang on to the life-giving tree, you’re afloat. With little control, you’re ride is incumbent upon the direction of the wind. Your landing is left to the discretion of forces beyond your control.

This week a friend buried her 17-year-old son whose life was cut short by cancer. Another friend is recovering from breast cancer surgery. A family member is facing a host of medical testing. A friend contemplates bankruptcy. Life might only be cold and windy if it were not for the strength and life God offers us. He stands tall. He gives nourishment. He gives life. He loves us using the loving hands of people who know Him.

Be cheered by the strength of a tree. Embrace the change of seasons. Walk among the beauty. Dance on occasion. And when it storms, hold on! Hold on to each other. Hold on to hope. Hold on to Him.

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