I did not need the weather man to tell me it was a brutal summer.

I wake up early (for me, 6 a.m. is early) each morning, rain, shine or snow. I do this sans the buzz of an alarm clock or music alarms to wake me.

This summer, however, was a great challenge for me. Under normal circumstances, I can count on my fingers and toes the number of days I’ve either deliberately overslept or been too darn lazy to get out there. The midsummer weeks, however, truly tested my resolve.

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler

I hope you are asking yourself why a fairly normal girl would wake up an hour before necessary, especially given the brutality of the heat and humidity.

Ari and I run in the mornings. Ari is my dog. I feel sure you have your pointer finger in the dimple of your cheek as you are thinking to yourself, “A-ha, now I understand that fabulous body Ari flexes.”

We have our regular routes, Ari and I. One of our routes includes our beautiful lake, which exists as the swimming hole for geese. The lake also is used for boating, canoeing and for some fishing. The sun rising over the lake is breathtaking. I love to watch the geese families travel together. I don’t mind the geese; I do mind their droppings.

I’ve always dreamed of owning five homes around a beautiful lake filled with ducks and fish. Sort of my very own compound, if you will. Why five? One for each of my girls’ families, and one for us, of course. Ah, a dream for another time.

There is something so reassuring and comforting through the familiarity of our morning routine. We hear the same few garage doors opening, neighbors in their cars leaving for work or school. We wave to the same small number of folks coming out in their robes or pajamas to retrieve their newspapers.

There is someone who is lucky enough to avoid Ga. 400 traffic by flying — yes, flying — in his/her private helicopter every morning. We hear it loud and clear, right above us. Sometimes I feel it’s flying just a wee bit too low for my heart.

Ari and I live in an equal-opportunity neighborhood. That is, people and animals living peacefully under one blue sky, most of the time. This sense of well-being changes when Ari gets possessive and chases the squirrels and the rabbits off our (his) property.

I do feel sad for the turtles in our back yard who do not understand his way of communicating a welcome. Bark, bark, bark.

Although he has developed a loving, sweet friendship with one of the deer families with which we share our neighborhood, he gets crazy with stranger danger if he sees a deer he does not know on our land, eating our plants.

One day, his deer friend came within a few feet of where we stopped so Ari could take a “country pish” (relieve himself of No. 1). They looked at each other for a moment or two, paying no attention to me, as if I were mere chopped liver. Then the deer turned to the rest of the family, as if to say, “We know this dog; it’s Ari. Come say good morning.”

And they did. And then, without nary an unkind word, they returned to their morning activity, and we returned to ours. (I love that word, nary.)

As we are running on our way back home, passing the houses where Ari’s friends can usually be found, the deer were gone. I could tell Ari was looking for them. He stopped short right in front of me to look around. I nearly killed myself as I promptly tripped over him, walking away with just some scratches and bruises.

The birds (and we have many), the ducks, the geese, all the four-legged furry and not furry friends who reside in my neighborhood live by the motto “Live and let live.”

So, I ask you, what did they learn in kindergarten that we humans have forgotten?