Summer crept back into the night air, the heavy clouds rolled by overhead making the dusk a little darker, the shadows a little deeper. You can feel the humidity rising, coming in along the light breeze. I took our dog Ricky out for his evening walk, keeping along our usual route and allowed him to take his time, getting a good sniff here and there and leaving his mark for the next dog to investigate as it walked by. Along Jackson Ave. the island is pinched, there are only a few blocks between the ocean and the bay and I could see from the ocean side that the sunset looked interesting as it set over the bay and I tried to hurry Ricky up so I could catch a glimpse of it but he had his own agenda and took his time with each pole and bush. We wandered by the little convenience store at the corner, looking for the two Asian women who are usually sitting on the steps but they weren't sitting out tonight and we hurried along. After a few more very important stops for Ricky, we made our way along the bulkhead that protects this area of Ventnor and there in the distance the clouds were lined up, spectacularly catching the deep blues and purples of the final dusk, the sun had already set behind the horizon. I snapped a few quick shots with my mobile phone camera, making sure to get the rippled water in the shot as it reflected the last of the light in the sky. Satisfied, I continued to walk and noticed Ricky giving me an impatient look as if his sniffing were far more important than a stupid sunset. You can't smell a sunset, you can't eat a sunset, you can't hump a sunset, so why bother? I imagined him thinking.
Up ahead down the street that runs along the bay, I could see the lights of a cop car and, in another try to hurry Ricky up, I made my way down to see what was going on, dragging him along when he got too involved in deciphering whatever it is dogs learn from the various smells they come across. The police car was blocking access to the cross street, where a fire truck was parked at the other end of the block, it's lights also lighting up the night in red and blue and white. Ricky and I made our way up the street, jumping over the running water in the gutter, water that I guessed came from the fire truck. As we got closer, Ricky continued to sniff the trees and bricks, oblivious to what was going on, and I sniffed the air, to see if it smelled of fire but I didn't smell a thing. A man was on his mobile phone standing beside his van, talking to someone furiously as the firemen stood in front of a house, dark and intact. Children were all over the street playing and running between the parked cars but evidently I missed any excitement beyond the flashing lights. We made our way to Ventnor Ave. to circle back and regain our usual route and picked up where we left off, being followed by older kids who I could hear gossiping about what happened at school.
We made it to the little park that faces the bay and looks over to the ball parks in Ventnor Heights, where, although it's posted NO DOGS on every post, bulkhead, tree, and lamp in the line of sight, no one seems to see the signs judging by the piles and piles of dog droppings lying in the grass all around. I let Ricky get a good sniff of whatever he needed to smell and we made our way from this tightly packed neighbourhood, where the houses are all jumbled together, built all in a row, each the same but changed over the years and wandered into another part along the back bay where the houses get bigger and are much older, each with a bit of lawn or garden.
I hear a crowd, and glasses tinkling, music playing but not too loudly, and we continue our walk when I come across a house party, a very genteel house party. On the side lawn was a beautiful dining table set for twelve, with a few well dressed people at some of the chairs deep in conversation and finishing up the wine they had had with the dinner that was obviously finished. The candles were still burning, glasses sparkled in the light and on the porch you could hear the rest of the dinner party, drinking and laughing, enjoying this beautiful late summer evening. Ricky paid them no mind but I strained to hear a bit of the conversations, to no avail, as we walked further and further away, the quiet sounds of the city silenced them to a whisper.
Onward we walked, up to Ventnor Avenue again, and made our way, passing an elderly couple here, a group of people waiting for some ice cream at Carisbrook Ice, and dodged the cars coming in and out of the Wawa parking lot in a hurry to get wherever they were going. As we neared the street where the fire had occurred, a group of teens came careening around the corner on all manner of skateboards, some running along side, in shorts, boys, long hair, no shirts, girls, sneakers, bare feet, a cacophony of laughing and the grinding of wheels on the pavement and they jumped off the sidewalk and made their way around the fire truck that was sitting across the street. The lights flickered across them, creating shadows and bright, and they continued on to where they were going, hurriedly.
Ricky and I turned, we were at our street, and walked in the near darkness, the trees hanging over our heads and blocking the light from the street lamps. Once down the street the silence again overtook us and we were alone.
Inside, Ricky ran to gulp down some water and met me back on the couch and we sat and watched some television.