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Travels with Maggie: Recognizing Limitations

Updated on May 16, 2019

Just a man and his dog, walking down a country road.

Here’s something Maggie and I have in common: we both dislike hot weather.

I mention that because we are currently having record-high temperatures this week in May in usually mild Olympia, and neither man nor dog are too happy about it. The area where we raise the chickens is tree-less, meaning no shade, meaning grumpy man and dog as the afternoon feedings occur.

Now grumpy is a relative term. My “grumpy” might be considered light-hearted to a complete ass. On the other hand, my “grumpy” would seem to be a product from hell for Mother Theresa, so there you go. And Maggie? I’m not sure what “grumpy” is to a dog, but I’m foregoing logic and stating to all, here and now, that Maggie is not her normal “care-free” as the temps soar into the high Eighties. To her credit, she gives her best effort while herding, and she is willing to suspend logic and head on down the road with me for our walk, but her tail is down and her steps sluggish, so she’s not fooling me one bit.

A dog named Maggie
A dog named Maggie

Dogs “get It”

Maggie does what I ask of her, in hot weather, out of loyalty. If left to her own system of logic, when the temps soar she would find the coolest shade around and camp out there until I finished my choirs. That’s what dogs do. That’s what dogs have always done. During the dog days of summer, dogs can be found under the porch, or under a maple tree, or under just about any damned thing which provides relief. Meanwhile, man is out there sweating his balls off, trying to accomplish something for God only knows what purpose.

You tell me which animal is smarter.

We were in the hay barn the other day, looking for eggs because, well, the chickens love to hide their eggs on the hottest days, miserable little fowl that they are. And in the barn the hay bales are staggered around, no conformity at all, the product of different people grabbing the nearest bale, or the one easiest to dislodge, so that it looks like a giant incomplete Lego creation. Searching for eggs means climbing around on the bales, looking for solid footing, and hoping you don’t come tumbling down with ten loose bales.

Mind you, I’m seventy years old. I really shouldn’t be climbing around on those precarious bales. One false-step and I’m looking at a broken ankle and a cast because, well bones get brittle in time, but still I’m climbing around in search of eggs, ignoring the obvious. Maggie, on the other hand, will only go so far and then she forsakes the hunt for logic. She eventually turns around, returns to the bottom of the hay stack, and waits for me to return, intact or broken.

You tell me which animal is smarter.

Truth be known, I’ve always been like that. I have always taken risks. I have always forsaken logic and found a need to reach for a higher ledge, to go faster than my machinery was built for, or to crash into fences when going around them would be prudent. It’s how I’m wired, and it is an absolute miracle that I have never had a broken bone or suffered any serious injury. I’m not a fool . . . I know my time is coming . . . I know that Fate patiently awaits the actions of a fool . . . but where is the fun in caution? And when I was drinking? Oh Lordy! How did I survive the crazy-assed stuff I did then?

Maggie is having none of that. If I am standing on the top of that hay bale stack, calling her to join me, she will take a few tentative steps and then return to terra firma, as if to say “I’ll be down here, Bill, to assist you when you do your Humpty Dumpty routine.”

Blame the Biological Family

I recently found out about my biological family. Quite a group they were. My biological mother died of liver disease in her forties (can we assume chronic alcoholic?); one of my brothers died in a motorcycle crash; my biological father died a con man in prison; and yet another brother died young in a knife fight. It would appear I come from some rather unsettled DNA. Lol

But without that information I had to learn, over time, that taking risks does not make a man, and ignoring common sense can have serious repercussions. I had to learn the hard way, at times, but the hard way eventually softened me and allowed me to grow.

Somehow Maggie understands all of that instinctively.

Only the strong survive? Don't count on it!
Only the strong survive? Don't count on it!

Understanding the Forest

On our walk yesterday, under perfect powder-puff skies, I was looking at the surrounding woods. There were quite a few dead trees within those thick stands, and reflection overtook me. Why did those trees die? I suspect they starved. I suspect they lacked the necessary nutrients in that packed area, and I suspect the over-crowding simply claimed a number of them. The phrase “only the strong survive” came to mind as I was walking, but then I saw a tall, healthy Douglas Fir, a good hundred feet in height, maybe one-fifty,the tallest of the bunch, full branches, healthy limbs, shattered and splintered at the top twenty feet, a victim of a lightning strike, the telltale burn marks on the bark.

And I thought that even the strong . . . even the mighty . . . will eventually fall from grace, for Nature has no favorites and all must live, and die, eventually, according to the same rules of randomness.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, hidden deeply, for those willing to search.

Me and Maggie, though, we are just content to walk our walk.

Another Walk Comes to an End

I made it back to the farm without breaking any bones, a win for me, and Maggie made it back with more valuable information she can call upon in the future. We grow closer on these walks, Maggie girl and me, and I value them for that reason. Our bond strengthens, as does our love for each other, and that fills me with happiness. I can’t do a damned thing about my biological family and the “gifts” they left me, but I can continue to take positive steps leading to a contented life ahead. I think I’ll do just that. I’m sorry my biological family, my mother, father, and brothers, did not make that same choice.

The wind picked up as we walked the last thirty feet. Maggie stopped, nose to the air, and filled herself with impressions, looking beautiful in that moment, a picture of youth learning on the fly, a reminder for me of days in fading photographs, the wind in my hair, running free, no cares, no worries, an endless landscape before me, just hoping against hope that lightning wouldn’t hit me, clinging desperately to grace.

What are you doing next week? Maggie and I would love to have you join us on one of our walks. The only thing we ask of you is silent contemplation while we walk. Words are not necessary among friends. Love will provide all the communication needed. We’re easy to find, Maggie and me, just a man and his dog, walking down a country road.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It sure does, Lawrence. It surely does!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Enjoyed the walk, and listening to the wind gently blowing through the trees.

      A life without some risk isn't really living, just existing isn't it?

      Besides, doesn't danger make the eggs more flavoursome?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy you could join us, Rajan! thank you sir!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      13 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      These walks with you reflecting on different things are always enjoyable, my friend. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I did find eggs, Sha, although the chickens are making it tougher on a daily basis. I think they find great enjoyment in stumping me.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nithya! Hope you feel a cool breeze today as you go about your tasks.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      13 months ago from Central Florida

      I really enjoyed this walk, Bill. Very reflective, contemplative, and serene, in spite of the heat.

      While you were climbing the bales, did you find any eggs? It might behoove you to take cues from Maggie girl. Dogs will usually follow their humans, no matter what. Obviously, she knows something you don't.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      13 months ago from Dubai

      I enjoyed the walk with you and Maggie. It is always hot here day after day. We learn from the choices we make and get to a better place in life. Be careful when you climb up on the bales, broken bones take way too long to heal and we will miss the walks.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Li-Jen, I suspect you already are as sharp as I am at your young age. I love your insights and your desire to know yourself...peace be with you always.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      13 months ago

      Hey Bill. You're such an inspiration because you turn ordinary to interesting and remind us to be grateful for what we have. I like how a simple walk with your pet dog can be an amazing story. Thanks for sharing...I wish I can be sharp at your age too.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for joining us, Bobbi! Are you talking about publishing my books on Amazon? It used to be CreateSpace, but now I just use Kindle Direct.

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Then Sean, we are both blessed, my friend. What more could please the soul than a quiet walk with a dear friend?

      bill

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      13 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I love the Maggie series, and accompanying you both on your walks. Hot weather makes me sluggish and a bit droopy as well. Hence, the "dog days of summer." Life is a series of choices with a little luck tossed in. I'd say you won the lottery, Bill, in certain ways. I know that I'm not alone, here in the hub community, or beyond, in saying, "Thank you for being you." Well done. :-)

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      Barbara Purvis Hunter 

      13 months ago from Florida

      Bill, Thanks for letting me tag along with you and Maggie. I enjoyed the walk and the company. That tall healthy tree had to be a female because most of us take excellent care of our bodies.

      I wanted to ask you if you will share--what service do you use to submit your stories to Amazon? I researched this and found so many different opinions until my head is spinning.

      Take care,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      13 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      Bill, my brother, you know that even science nowadays has accepted that Love and positive thinking can recreate and improve our DNA while we are living! So you have no excuse! Lol! Thank you for another "deep" walk! I am looking forward to the next!

      I am blessed "walking" with you!

      Sean

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nothing wrong with well-places selfishness, Manatita. lol As for becoming a deer, I suppose there are worse things to become, 'eh?

      Peace be with you, brother,and love always

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always a pleasure having you join us, Heidi. Next time you find yourself in Olympia, give me a call and we'll make it happen. In the meantime, a speedy recovery is my wish for you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Without a doubt, Meg, my adoptive parents did a great job, and I will be eternally grateful for their love.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      There's a lesson in there somewhere, Monkey...hopefully I'll figure it out in this lifetime. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Crossing my fingers, MizB, about those broken bones. I think it would be kinda cool to make it a lifetime without breaking one, but I'm afraid to alter what has worked for so long, you know? :) Happy weekend my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very good time to walk, Linda, and I follow the same patterns when it is hot....or just walk in a shaded area if I must walk in the afternoon.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Pamela, it is a trait I admire greatly. Conversation for the sake of conversation wears me out. I need my solitude.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We can only hope, Pop! I'm trying to pay attention to her advice, but I've got some wild blood flowing through me.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Ruby! Bad seed? Let's hope that never surfaces, my friend. I've done a good job of keeping it under wraps so far.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm still smiling, Ann. Quite obviously you are not a baking person. lol But come on, Mary Berry is cute old lady. :)

      bill

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No way, Shannon, ever, and I mean ever, will I travel to Texas in the summer. It's all yours, my friend, and you are welcome to it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Verlie, and Happy Weekend to you. Obviously I'm a bit slow getting to the comments, and I can't blame the heat on my tardiness. That just leaves old age I'm afraid. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks Linda! But come on, it's kind of fun, poking that bear. Gets the heart pumping for sure. :)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      13 months ago from london

      I didn't know that Fogelberg had meditational pieces. Figures. Strikingly astounding scenery and lyrics.

      Seems from your history, that you have a lot to be grateful for. Made me chuckle. Gratitude is the life-breath of God the Absolute.

      Yes, Bro. Dogs are incredibly faithful creates. More loyal than some human beings. Be careful of attachments though. The story goes that King Bharata was on the verge of enlightenment, when a pregnant deer fell into the pond near his meditation habitat.

      He felt compassion for the deer and nursed it until it delivered. He then looked after the baby for years, becoming more and more attached and completely forgetting his divine purpose. He died and became a deer. There you are. I told ya. Lol.

      Yes, I'll walk with you, if for no other reason than needing some more devotion, like the dog. So you see, I'm selfish, Bro.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      13 months ago from Chicago Area

      I'd definitely join you two on a walk!

      Yes, dogs are much more attuned to nature and their nature than we are. But I can relate to your "risky" behavior, recently having surgery for my broken wrist (sustained while stupidly stepping over a sleeping dog). Now I'm getting antsy wanting to get back to my regular physical activity. Wish I had dog patience.

      As for the weather, well, hail last night and very cool today, but inching toward the "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" Chi-town summer. Even when it's 70-ish, my pups, like Maggie, are starting to say, "Mom, we really have to walk today?" So I take a clue and shorten the walk or go early.

      Thanks for sharing your strolls with us!

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      13 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Your story shows that nurture can overcome nature. Your adoptive parents did a great job and allowed your inborn talent to shine through in a good nurturing environment.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      13 months ago

      What a great dog. The tall tree had all the advantages UNTIL the lightning came, then its height was a disadvantage.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      13 months ago from Beautiful South

      Love your walks with Maggie. Such a lovely, and sensible, dog. LOL Do be careful though. Broken bones do hurt, and past our youth, sometimes they don't heal properly. My ankle still collapses painfully sometimes from that break in the fibula just above it. Hey, I was watching out for the black ice I'd been warned about. Nobody said there would be white ice in the white-painted crosswalk, and I didn't have enough sense to know that. That was 13 years ago.

      Eighty nine degrees today, and we have 99 and 100+ temps to look forward to. More storms coming Saturday night.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoy reading about your walks with Maggie very much. She's a lovely dog. As usual, we've had the same weather here that you've experienced, though the last couple of days have been cooler. I didn't enjoy the heat at all. I go for a walk with my dog early in the day or in the evening when it's hot. We both prefer it that way.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      13 months ago from Sunny Florida

      You asked, so I must conclude that Maggie is the smart one. She is not climbing on insecure stacks of hay, but you did survive another day.

      As for your biological family, it is what it is, and you have done more with your life than they were able to accomplish.

      I would love to take a silent walk with you and Maggie. One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband was I didn't feel I had to talk all the time. We were comfortable sitting in silence some of the time, and it felt good.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      13 months ago

      Maggie is one great dog. Listen to her advice and you will remain in one piece.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      13 months ago from Southern Illinois

      It seems to me that Maggie is a smart doggie, not climbing up on the bales. you be careful too. The real hot weather has not reached here yet, in fact it's quite cool in the mornings. Your biological family is proof that when one is adopted and raised with love, the bad seed ceases to be. I enjoyed my journey with you and Maggie. Hugs.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      13 months ago from SW England

      We are up to here with baking shows in Britain. It's a marmite thing - love it or hate it - and I'm no cook so you can guess which side I'm on! (although I love Marmite) But I seem to be in the minority as I know loads who have to watch all the time. I think it just emphasises what I don't know and what I can't do!! Enjoy!

      Glad I made you smile, bill.

      Ann

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      13 months ago from Texas

      I don't know about metaphors, but you made me think about nature versus nature and, of course, survival of the fittest.

      Just one more thing to say here....come visit me in about two or three months if you want to know what hot really feels like. Temps over 100 are now what I call hot. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I always think about that, Flourish, mentioning something and then it happens. Darn it! I'll bet a broken bone hurts like the devil!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Bill! You do the same. I think it's about time you got a new Gobi, don't you?

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ann, for reading, commenting, and making me chuckle. Ys, we finish the chores, and then break into "The Sound of Music"....the hill are alive...sing it with me, Ann. lol

      Enjoy the heck out of your upcoming weekend. By the way, and this is related to nothing at all, Bev and I are hooked on "The Great British Baking Show." I don't know why but I love it.

      bill

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      13 months ago from Canada

      Morning Bill (and Maggie) good to see you can turn your grumpy into funny. And you made it home with nothing broken, (does that include the eggs?). I'm useless in the heat, and we got a bit of heat over the past few weeks. It's nice when you can take your time, and not have to rush around.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      13 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I love these walks. Your little Maggie is wise beyond her years. You? I'm not so sure LOL. Please be careful out there. You've been lucky for 70 years but you've gotta put down the stick and stop poking that bear. Maggie needs you. We need you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

      Maggie is a philosopher indeed. Be safe and take only calculated risks. We’d hate to have you breaking anything over silly eggs. I hope you didn’t jinx yourself by divulging no broken bones so far.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      13 months ago from Massachusetts

      Really enjoying these weekly walks with you and Maggie. Makes me miss my own walks with our Gobi, gone for almost 4 years now. My how the time flies by. Enjoy every moment with Maggie, and have a wonderful weekend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      13 months ago from SW England

      These walks with you and Maggie are so calming and peaceful, bill. Just the two of you, nature inspiring thoughts or just being there.

      Incidentally, in the first para of 'Dogs "get it"' I presume you finish your 'chores', unless you both break into song frequently; that conjures up a great picture! Sorry, couldn't resist it....

      I'm looking forward to the next walk already. I know it will be a good one.

      Love the song and video - so many things in danger, will we manage to save them? I certainly hope we try harder.

      Have a thunderingly good Thursday, bill!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you McKenna. I appreciate you joining us. We had to work hard with Maggie on dog aggression. She still have her moments during walks in town when she will snarl at another dog and yes, that is stressful.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That was my goal, Mary, so thank you. I want these walks to be reflective times for everyone. We can all see ourselves in these walks, or so I believe.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That is very kind of you, Liz. Thank you for those words. You made my day.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And I'm enjoying you joining us, Dora. Thanks so much for your support.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      13 months ago

      I love going on these walks with you and Maggie. I find them so peaceful. My dog is dog aggressive so going on walks with her is stressful. I love her, though, just as you love Maggie. If we have a relaxed mind, our dogs can teach us so much.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      13 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      As I walk with you, I find myself reflecting on all the things you talked about, of days of fading photographs, our biological gifts and they all indeed are a blessing we treasure as we walk this path of life. this is really getting to be a series I do look forward to.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      I like the way you skilfully intertwine deeper reflection with everyday tasks, at the same time as viewing your actions from your dog's perspective. You write with such clarity that it is easy to form a mental picture..

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      13 months ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful read! Having an insightful dog like Maggie, and a compassionate mind that can read her so well makes a great opportunity for a creative writer like you. I'm enjoying your camaraderie.

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