Saturday, November 8, 2008

Walking Through Autumn

Like most dogs of his furry lineage, Edward is utterly repelled by the thought of wet feet. On a soggy day, he is bound and determined to remain indoors and when forced into a necessary foray into the back garden he will high step comically along the stone pathway in an often futile attempt to remain dry-pawed. One can clearly see his mood begin to cloud when the skies do. But in all other weather, he adores nothing more than heading out with me for a long walk. In the hot summer, when the days become mossy and oppressive, those walks are frequently enjoyed late at night. After dark, when the swelter has abated a bit and the shrill crescendos of the cicadas can be heard sawing loudly through the pine trees, we become moving, moonlit shadows as we take our slower strolls through the waning heat. Our winter walks are often experienced at our fastest pace, as the cold is a friend to Edward, of course. When the temperature falls, his normally jaunty step is transformed to a run of pure joy, with some jumps and scampers thrown in for good measure, while I, bundled up like a toddler, try valiantly to hold up my end of the leash. But, autumn. Is there any season better suited to long walks with a furry dog than autumn? Overnight it seems, Mother Nature has lit her trees with fire, each one more magnificent than the last, like forest jewelry, more fine and precious than deserved. The air is cleaner, crisper; it enters the body like a cool honeyed tonic and we take great drinks of it as we meander along beneath a sky the very definition of blue. Having spent many a long day just this way as a little girl, nothing makes me feel happier, healthier, or more appreciative of life than walking briskly beside a beloved dog on a most salubrious day. And from the way Edward often looks up at me as we go along, smiling his big happy smile, he obviously feels the same.

From childhood, perhaps you remember this poem by
Winifred Welles :

Dogs and Weather

I’d like a different dog For every kind of weather -
A narrow greyhound for a fog,
A wolfhound strange and white,
With a tail like a silver feather
To run with in the night,
When snow is still, and winter stars are bright.

In the fall I’d like to see
In answer to my whistle,
A golden spaniel look at me.
But best of all for rain
A terrier, hairy as a thistle,
To trot with fine disdain

Beside me down the soaked, sweet-smelling lane.