Cooper and I race the sun to the top of the hill, stopping more often than we used to for me to catch my wind and Coop to take it all in.

I have been to town for lunch with old friends. Over portions we can’t finish, our conversation dwells on retirement finance, heart disease, cancer and hip replacement. But it doesn’t matter. We still crack jokes about our circumstances. Back home, I savor the fact that we have remained friends for more than 4o years.

I stick an emergency aspirin in my pocket before Cooper and I head out. He waits for me to leash him up, accepting my compulsion keep him safe.

We make it to our hilltop and watch clouds lift off the mountain peaks for the first time in a week. Setting sun warms south faces on our way home.