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2010: Ashes to ashes

When Xena died last summer, I didn’t really write about it. I couldn’t. It was one of those rare times when words fluttered away from me like a flock of frenetic finches.

Tonight, as 2010 gasps its last and the Knoxville Years draw to a close, I decided to scatter the big dog’s ashes in Lake Loudon. There were tears. But I also paused to remember what she meant to me. I thought about a time almost 12 years ago to the night, when I looked up from the couch to see a Newf puppy charging at me in wide-eyed terror, a string of twinkle lights wrapped around her hind legs and a 12 foot Christmas tree tumbling behind her. Christmas ended early that year. But it was OK.

I thought about the time 11 years ago when Xena and I drove back from the Knoxville News Sentinel after delivering a batch of pretty awesome black-eyed peas to the staff there. The Mingus Big Band played on the radio as the clock struck 12 and the year 2000 kicked into gear. The world kept turning, despite prophesies of computer-assisted doom. I swear I could see Xena grinning in the rearview mirror.

Maybe that’s why a tear came to my eye when the Mingus Big Band came on tonight while Lara and I drove back form an early New Year’s Eve dinner at RouxBarb, our favorite Knoxville restaurant. I knew it was time to scatter Xena’s ashes. To bring closure to the Knoxville Years.

The lake was fizzing with reflected fireworks. Partying people laughed in the distance. A blue heron squawked through the darkness like a blind man tapping his way across a busy intersection. Gray ashes filtered down from the dock, into the black water and back from whence they came.

Lara and I leave Knoxville fondly. This place has been wonderful to us and we’ll never forget it. I enter 2011 confident that there will be more dogs, more love and more Mingus down the line.

Happy New Year, y’all.

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