Travels With Maggie: Witnessing the Wonder
It’s That Time of Year
You don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes and it will change for ya! Welcome to the Pacific Northwest in October.
You are in for a treat today if you joined us. This is one of those days we dream about in our neck of the woods, 55 degrees, clear, and windy. Maggie and I are primed and ready to go.
The Wonder of It All
As we start out I’m reminded of an old Catholic school joke: What’s black and white and black and white and black and white? A nun rolling down the stairs! Today the joke goes like this: What is red and orange and yellow, red and orange and yellow, red and orange and yellow? A copse of Big-Leaf Maples in a stiff wind! It is raining leaves as we begin our walk, huge leaves, colorful leaves, a banquet for the eyes, Mother Nature putting on a show, and Maggie is loving it. She runs ahead of me, catching them as they fall, shaking her head, spitting one out, and immediately catching another, and of course I have to give it a try, raising my snout, opening my mouth, trying in vain to catch one and feeling like a kid again in the trying, remembering back to days long ago, and the silliness and lack of concerns associated with those days, running wild and free for no particular reason.
A Trip Home
Bev and I took a drive to Tacoma this past weekend, twenty-five miles to the north, to see my old home and neighborhood. By chance the current owner of my childhood home was there when we drove by, so we stopped and chatted with her, told her about the home’s history, listened to her, the pride evident in her voice, and I left that meeting feeling good knowing a home I once cherished . . . still cherish . . . is in such good hands. What a great neighborhood that was, the perfect area for a kid to grow up in, the old brick home, post-war construction, solid and friendly and welcoming, and I’ll stop here before I sound like some old codger reminiscing to no one in particular, trapped in his vault of memories.
I go see the doctor this coming Friday, my annual check-up, and I have no doubt all will be well, this energizer bunny body of mine just keeps on truckin’ down life’s highway, family and friends taking earlier exits, short on fuel and mechanical breakdowns, but Bill keeps on keeping on. The doctor will ask me how I’m doing and I’ll respond “fine, Doc, just adjusting to the new normal,” and that really is what getting older is all about, the new normals, the adjustments we make as our range of motion declines, as our stamina declines, and as our will-to declines.
My pace on these walks is evidence of the new normal, shorter strides, more purposeful strides, making sure of solid footing, in no rush to experience a broken ankle or broken hip, not at this age, recovery being a flaming bitch I can do without, thank you very much. And Maggie seems to understand it all. She races ahead but then stops, looks back at me, and then returns, always within sight, always within a quick return, for I’m her human and she’s my dog, and that bond ain’t changing anytime soon, pardon the poor grammar.
Look, up Ahead and to the Right
Not a dust devil but a leaf devil, hot air rising in the field, meeting cooler air from the low-pressure system, a vortex is formed and the result is a vertical column of leaves, twirling for our entertainment, about ten feet in height, and Maggie is off and running towards it, stopping five feet short, barking up a storm at this wondrous vision, and I’m just in awe of how cool nature is, the forces all around us, a miniature tornado of leaves putting on a performance just for us. If Toby had been with us, he would have run right through that column of twisting air, but Maggie and me, we are content just watching it and allowing the awe to spread through us. And that’s really what these walks mean to me, contentment, reflection, and a chance to re-visit those things which somehow became camouflaged over the years, camouflaged by responsibilities and jobs and bills, by heartaches and illnesses and loss. I am more a child than an adult these days, on these walks. I am willing to just be. I have no desire to change what I see. I absorb it all, accept it all, and find wonder in it all, and all the thanks go to Maggie for making it happen.
The sun makes an effort but it is weak at best, distance sucking the heat from her, like some jilted lover you meet in the grocery store, a reminder of the original attraction but lacking the warmth. Late fall and winter are like that, nothing much more than a promise of things to come, or a reminder of the “warm and fuzzies” left behind. I make a mental note to wear my fleece-lined jeans tomorrow. Maggie, she doesn’t much care about the temps, wrapped in a fur coat, oblivious to the elements, looking for another puddle to splash through.
Maggie does this strange thing again as she runs ahead of me. When she is “jogging,” she runs crooked. By that I mean she actually runs in a straight line, say north and south, but her body is angled diagonally, like northeast and southwest. It’s adorable and weird, all at the same time, a bit disconcerting, an illusion which always leaves me feeling a bit off-center. Look for it the next time you join us and tell me if you don’t feel a bit of vertigo while watching her run.
And I trip again! It happens probably every other day, in this field, I’ve come to expect it. Look closely and you’ll see the offending party, a thin red runner from a native blackberry plant. They are all over the field, no thicker than a piece of string, giving the impression of frailty and impotence, but they manage to snag hold of me on a regular basis, their thin threads tripping up one-hundred-and-sixty-five pounds, and I find that so remarkable, how something so thin, so insignificant, could trip me. But then isn’t that just like life in general? How many times are we tripped up in life, oftentimes by small matters which really are fairly unimportant? Making a typhoon out of a glass of water, that’s what my mentor once told me, “Bill, not everything is life and death, so take a chill pill and relax!”
Time Is Changing This Weekend
The end of Daylight Savings Time happens this weekend, a weird custom if you ask me, spring ahead, fall back, messing with the natural order of things, random decisions made by well-intentioned men and women, fine-tuning this and adjusting that, all for what? I’m sure they’ve got their reasons but man alive, there are bigger fish to fry in society, don’t you think?
“I think they should tackle some real problems, Maggie, and not worry so much with what time the sun rises,” and my girl looks at me and nods her beautiful head in agreement, for Maggie knows that the sun always rises, day in and day out, every damned day of the year, and it does so according to a schedule of its making. Man may think he’s in control, but that’s just folly to the nth degree, and I’m reminded of an old Lakota saying about Daylight Savings Time:
"Only the government would believe that you can cut a foot off the top
of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and get a longer blanket.”
Me and Maggie, we don’t worry much about such things. We just walk. We just enjoy each other’s company and get some much-needed exercise. That’s good enough for us.
The cold is definitely coming. Preparations are being made all around us, the squirrels, the birds, the weasels, possums, and raccoons, all know it’s on its way, all are busy taking care of business on this postcard day in Olympia. I fire up the truck, pat Maggie on the head, give her the last treat, and steer us for home.
Thanks, always, for joining us. These walks are enhanced by your company. You can find us next week, and every week, where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)