I see the new pup start for the door and look back at me over her curved tail, letting me know it’s time for a pee.

She’s a handful, half Beagle, half Jack, with coloring called “liver and white.” Her body is low to the ground, muscular, covered in sleek, white fur. Large, reddish-brown spots decorate her back and the base of her tail. Her head is brown and muzzle white with small, pale-brown spots and pink and brown spotted nose. Not uncommon.

But it’s her eyes. The color of cinnamon, joyous, always ready to play. She is a delightful animal.

We crunch over leaves shaken loose by October winds, and I stand there just appreciating the moment. Yellow-orange sunlight streams over the hillside, giving a surreal glow to the green and gold leaves in the treetops, while the late-afternoon’s long shadows darken and divide the yard.

The feeling of a peaceful evening moves into me.

I look over to the old horse barn at the back of the property. In this light, with its fresh covering of leaves, it looks pretty good. It’s comfortable, as much a part of the landscape as the old-growth trees. This is the barn that every winter I ponder how I will renovate it come spring, and how cool it could be when done.

That spring has yet to come.

Here and there by fallen trees lay piles of wood waiting to become campfires, and a swing set that hasn’t had any swingers in quite some time.

The pup comes and parks her skinny butt right between my feet, yawns, looks up for a pat on the head and maybe a game of catch. It makes me happy.

I never thought that I would be that guy. The one who walks around the yard with a little dog, or takes it for a ride in the car, or becomes overjoyed by the over-the-top, welcome-home-hero greetings I receive every time I walk into the house.

With a smile I bend down and pat her head. “Who’s my girl?”

We walk around the side of the house to go to the mailbox, just as the wind picks up.It comes in low and sneaks up under my jacket, giving me a shiver.

Winter is back, just saying hello. Hazel eyes. So warm.