This is another one brought on, at least partially, by our record rainy season.
Each morning at between 5:15 and 5:30, Russell, the huge and untrained German Shepherd of whom I am in charge (?), begins to bark; a deep sonorous and resonant bark. He barks at the first things that move and continues to bark until I roust myself from bed and then go wrestle with him to get him off his chain so he can run and poop and pee. We wrestle because he becomes so excited at the prospect of being free that he begins to buck and rear like a small horse. Of course it is in no way obvious to him that this impedes the muddy path to freedom.
Thursday morning was the beginning of another day of thunderous driving rain. It had rained all night and all day the day before. The ground was saturated and swamp-like in front of the house and the walkway beneath the eaves that help to keep Russell dry was slick with mud and rain from his forays out to bark in the rain. At dawn's first bark I rose to do my unleashing duty, knowing that the more quickly I did it, the more quickly I could return to a warm bed inside and the sound of the rain outside.
I eased the door open and peered into the gray dawn and the equally gray curtain of rain and there he was, leaping up on me with muddy paws and rank doggy breath. I pushed him back and down, as I do every morning, yelling at him "down" and "sit" even though it's as futile as screaming into a vacuum. Russell knows not word one related to obedience. He is trained by his masters with a rolled up newspaper slapped into an open palm and it is the only thing to which he responds.
We began our morning grapple to find the collar and subsequently the grasping of the all too small clasp that needs to be squeezed and pulled to send him off on his morning duties. This morning, for reasons unclear, he was particularly unruly and when he completely reared up he knocked me back and off balance. I lost my footing in the pooled and muddy water on the concrete porch and fell backwards, my back hit the door just as I was twisting to try to keep my tailbone from crashing into the concrete and the door slammed shut. Shut.
As in locked out at 5:20 in the morning on a calamitously rainy day with no power and/or water.
I was wearing a pair of thin sleeping shorts and nothing else. I lay there on the cold wet of the front entrance with a huge dog panting over me and a locked door behind me. I kicked at him and swore at him. Neither of those things opened the door. I pried at it just in case, but it was clearly, firmly and absolutely locked. Thanking God that I at least have the good sense to keep my muddy shoes outside the front door, I struggled to my feet, slipped on a pair of muddy Crocs and began the slosh around the house to see if it could be broken into.
I had previously broken in through the octagonally shaped kitchen window when I had grabbed the wrong keys upon exiting in my first week at the house. But I had repaired the crack I had made and had strengthened the lock. Good work. Around the back is impenetrable as the back wall is a corrugated aluminum door on a roller, much like that of a garage or grocery store. The only possibility was the bedroom window; open but secured by a spider-web wrought iron sculpture that covered it completely. If one was to push in as hard as one could, one might almost; but no, way too small for me.
I was now soaking wet and shivering a bit in the early morning rain. It may still be Costa Rica, but when it rains for days on end, the sun never gets a chance to do its warming work. I made my way back to the front door to see if there was something, some method of breaking and entering my own house that I had overlooked. Again I pried at the doors, the windows; working at the jams and attempting to find a slim piece of something that might be used to prise that once-broken kitchen window open once again. Nothing. I made this trek in the deep mud two or three times, before giving in and giving up.
I stood outside the bedroom window, which would be my only hope. I pressed at the iron bars and gazed at the slender opening and knew that there was no way that I was going to get through there. I pushed at the chain that held the two parts of the ironwork together and knew it would never break. I needed a bolt-cutter, or, wait, a small person, a very small person. I knew that Dan and Kim, the couple across the street might just have a bolt-cutter, but for sure had a small person. They have two sons, Reese and Wyatt, five and six years old.
Because it was still shy of 6:00 AM I retired to my car, blessedly beneath a carport, laid the seat back, shivered, and repeated the Serenity Prayer to myself, over and over. At least now I had a plan; I just had to wait until a slightly more neighborly hour to put it into action. There was no electricity and there would be no lights to inform me of my neighbor's having risen to greet the day, but they do have a two year old daughter and she, naturally, gets everyone up early.
I waited as long as I could bear and then slogged across the river that our dirt road had become, letting the pounding rain pour off my body. There wasn't much to soak, but it was all soaked. I stood beneath the upper balcony where Kim and Dan's front door was and sensed (YES!) motion and the early morning sounds of a household rising. I called out, "Hola, hola". And Kim came to the front door, blinking in early morning surprise and through the haze of the recently awakened.
I briefly explained my dilemma and within a few minutes tall Dan and tiny Reese were wriggling into ponchos and rubber boots and were accompanying this nearly naked neighbor across the muddy road to the back window. I explained my plan and they nodded, each of them not quite awake and certainly not at all clear on why they were out in the rain and the mud at this time of the day. We reached the back window, Dan and I pushed it forward as far as we could and Reese slipped through easily, handily.
The only obstacle now would be Molly, my own dog. She would bark or she would hide, one or the other. I talked to her and she let young Reese through and he made his way through the darkened and unfamiliar house to the keys. But they were hung too high for him to reach, I'd forgotten how short one is when one is six. Dan and I looked at each other wondering at the delay, but then heard the sound of something being dragged across the floor. Reese had spied the tall bar stool I have and was working it to under the pegboard that held the keys. He was using a technique I am now certain he had used before to get to things that might perhaps have been intentionally hung a bit high for him. A moment or two later his pale face was at the window, thrusting the keys forward. Victory.
Dan and I sloshed around the house one last time and opened the front door. Reese and Molly both spilled out and I thanked everyone profusely. By this time it was nearly 7:15. I had been locked out for almost two hours. I thought about sleep, but instead made myself a pot of tea and began my morning routine. Afterall, I had some thanks to give.