Mist rising off the morning wake gave an eerie aura to the lake as we awoke from a peaceful nights’ slumber. The fire pit had grown cold and Sam quickly relit the ashes by throwing fresh kindling and a new log in the pit. My favorite time of day during a camping trip had always been daybreak, and this particular morning was especially peaceful.
The silence was broken only by an occasional frog croaking, fish jumping through the peaceful silence or a bird screeching. Both Sam and I respected the stillness of our surroundings and spoke little. I busied myself with breakfast preparations while Sam tidied the campground. We ate in contented silence, enjoying the beauty that surrounded us.
Sam was, and still is, my soul mate. He knows what I’m thinking before I’ve even completely formulated the thought, and I do the same for him. We are completely compatible and in the thirty eight years we’ve been together I only remember one combat that stands out. He is a beautiful man, from the inside out. His blue eyes have flecks of gold, that I’m sure mean he is the son of the Sun God and those are his marks. His six foot three stature still allow him to stand out in any crowd and his dark hair is just showing signs of age with silver strands coming in at his temples. His face lights up when he smiles. Actually the entire room lights up when he smiles.
This camping trip had been our second honeymoon trip in honor of our third anniversary. I had actually not been a camper until Sam. I always preferred the luxury of a hotel with a bed and a hot shower. That was until Sam showed me the beauty of a starlit night and the romance of a tent and a moonlit skinny dip in a lake with a meteor shower, and being serenaded by frogs and crickets. He had picked the spot and simply said, “You’re going to love the daybreaks, I promise.” And as usual, he was right.
We decided on a day hike to a creek that was five miles northeast of our campsite. “We’ll hike for five miles, eat at the creek, splash around a bit and have lunch.” Sam said, winking at me, “and then we’ll head back.”
“Sounds great!” I said, “You lead on, I will follow.”
“Yes ma’am,” he chuckled.
The weather was perfect and scenery was something out of a Currier and Ives drawing. It was October so it was not too hot or too cold and the leaves were just falling off the trees. We startled a few squirrels that went scampering up trees and then scolded us as we walked under them. As they screeched out at us it was if they were telling us not to disturb their gathering time. Didn’t we know they had to gather before winter?
“Need a break?” Sam asked, looking back after we’d walked for about an hour.
“No, I’m good,” I answered. “Do you need a break?” I asked.
He stopped in his tracks and turned to face me. “Are you kidding?”
I laughed and hugged him. “I think you just wanted a hug.”
“Petra, I will always take a hug from you, and you know that. But I do not need a break.” He joked and turned around hiking again for our destination.
The path we were on was shaded by trees so it was not apparent how high the sun was in the sky until we came to a clearing. When we did the temperature rose fifteen degrees. “Want some water?” He asked.
“Yes please,” I answered.
“We’re almost there,” he said. “It’s just past those trees,” he pointed to the edge of the clearing. He looked at me and asked, “Did you hear that?”
“Shhh,” he whispered. His eyes darted from left to right as he listened. “There! Did you hear that?”
“I. . . sort of.” I answered. “I kind of sounded like.”
He said, “Was that a baby?”
“That’s what I was going to say,” I said.
He put his finger to his lips and said, “Shhh.”
But then I know what I heard. “Sam, that is a baby crying. Where do you think it’s coming from?”
“I don’t know.” He looked at me, “But I think we should find out.” We headed in the direction that we thought the baby crying was coming from and we ended up going exactly where our destination had been all along. We crossed the clearing and entered through a small grove of trees. I heard the babbling creek, but then that sound was disturbed by the shrill shrieking of a baby. This time there was no mistaking that sound. We hastened our steps.
“Sam, that baby sounds like it needs help.”
“I know baby, I know.” He said to me as he focused in on the direction of the sound. “Come on, it’s coming from over here.”
We were right next to the creek, where we were supposed to have our romantic lunch, and as we broke through the tree line we came face to face with the largest dog I have ever seen. Standing on all four legs this dog easily stood four feet high. Her long, thick white furs shimmered in the sunlight, inviting petting, but make no mistake about it; this dog was there for only one reason. Her job was to protect that baby.
“Good girl,” Sam cooed at the dog. “Good girl.” The tail began to wag as her ears settled down. “Show me the baby,” Sam said calmly.
I have never seen anything like this before, or since, in my life. That dog took my Sam into the bushes and pulled aside a huge branch to display his treasure. Nestled safely in a basket was a baby, swaddled in blankets with a note pinned on it. Sam gently lifted up the basket, speaking softly to both the dog and the baby and brought them over to me.
I unpinned the note and read out loud. “My name is Benjamin and this is my protector Duchess. She won’t let anything happen to me, but she can’t do everything. If you are reading this it means that Duchess trusts you and that’s good enough for me. Please take me with you, you won’t regret it. P.S. Duchess goes wherever I go.”
I looked at Sam who looked at me and then looked at Benjamin. “What are we going to do?” I asked him.
He gave me his crooked smile. The one that melts me in two and makes me do whatever he wants, and said, “I guess we just got that baby you wanted so badly.”