Freedom

Cresting the hill, I saw her and her golden fourleg companion before Henrietta did. I had time to distract and redirect my black fur ball before her awareness caught up to mine, but instead, with curiosity and a sense of You’ve got this, I chose full steam ahead.

You’re only trapped if you allow yourself to become entangled?

Full disclosure…she did ask about my Thanksgiving before her thought stream flowed from her mind right through her mouth, without pause or disruption by boulder or fallen limb.

Freedom?

Relationship has significance only when it is a process of self revelation.
~J. Krishnamurti

Imagine if you will, my five-year-old self dressed in yellow rain coat and hat, walking under Niagara Falls.

I listened as she flitted between the lives of her three children and spouse. She gave heavy emphasis to her son who started a job with a west coast tech company last June. The young man lives in a 275 square foot apartment—even though the company is located an hour’s commute away.

“The city is where the trendy restaurants and bars are—near the office—there are only chain restaurants,” she said. “The kid’s don’t want that. They want the big city amenities….so there are all these nondescript tech buses driving employees from the city to work—Google, Adobe, Eventbrite. The buses have bathrooms—and serve coffee and food! They can count their commute as work time…if they’re working.”

I found no space for questions…or, magical math.

Pulling my yellow rain hat over my ears for a moment, I wondered if the young man feels free. He’s left wide open spaces for a postcard apartment and commuting on a bus. He is away from his parent’s eyes, the expectations of the moral Midwest, and I hear he’s got more than a few spare coins rolling into his pockets.

Freedom?
An inside or outside job?

At black lab Ziggy’s English Tudor, I interrupted, “Henrietta and I are walking the long route today. If I don’t see you again before Christmas….happy wishes for time with your children at home!”

“Oh…okay. Wishing you the same!”

I walked on in silence thinking about what we choose for ourselves, and what popular culture chooses for us.


What does freedom mean to you?

Do you say
no-thank you when what everyone else is having does not satisfy you?

Just listen....

Of course you can!

Two shots stopped us in our tracks.
Henrietta sat, wearing her curious expression.
I was relieved to see she wasn’t afraid.

A jumble of thoughts tumbled…the parking lot was empty, thought we had the marsh to ourselves this morning, deer hunting is closed, must be a pheasant hunter parked in the second lot….and then two chocolate Labrador retrievers appeared on the scene. Henri and I weren’t close enough to see what they were up to, but the hunter’s shouts at Dixie and Mocha made it clear the dogs were most likely pulling feathers, not retrieving as he’d like them to.

A glance at my pup told me we weren’t moving anytime soon. We watched as the hunter walked over and picked up the bird he’d shot. He both praised the dogs for flushing, and admonished them for mauling the feathered.

“Good morning!” I called from gravel road to field.

“Morning,” he replied.

Sensing he wasn’t happy to have an audience, I quelled my inclination to ask him if Henrietta could have a sniff of the pheasant. I gave Henrietta’s cord a sustained tug.

We walked past the hunter’s red pickup in the second lot, through a short stretch of woods where trilliums and Jack-in-the-Pulpit’s are tucked in for their winter nap, and out onto the dike. Filled with memories of Mara, I felt like a traitor for bringing my new love to our old haunt. I chose to kick that feeling aside. Mara wouldn’t want me walking alone, I’m sure.

Camera tricks? Henri wears a halo.

Henri had a splendid time breaking through thin ice on the dike’s reedy edges. We traveled quite a ways out and back so I was surprised to find the hunter had just loaded his dogs and was getting into the truck’s driver’s seat when we arrived back at the lot.

“Still here? This might be an odd question,” I called, “and…please feel free to say no…but, can my dog smell your bird? She’s only a pup and there are high hopes she’ll grow into a splendid pheasant dog.”

In the welcome sunlight, he squinted at us and replied, “I’ve been asked a lot weirder questions. Sure, let her take a look,” he said.

When presented with the kill, Henri had its head in her mouth in a blink. The hunter gently opened her jaws with his hands and pulled the bird free. “You can’t eat the bird,” he told her, presenting its wing to her snout. She sniffed and pulled at the breast feathers with her front teeth. She’s going to be a great bird dog, I thought silently.

My vulnerability in asking elicited an unexpected response.

For thirty minutes or more I tried to suspend all I knew about pheasant hunting and Labrador Retrievers as the hunter shared stories and advice. I nodded and uh-huh’d a lot…..considered how my husband or son might have interacted in a similar conversation. Me? I simply enjoyed the hunter’s excitement about our similar interest. He went so far as to offer to work with Henri in the field should we cross paths again.

Interesting? A connection I might not have risked a year or so ago?

It was fun.

When’s the last time you stepped outside of what you know, listening with fresh ears and mind?

Yearning

I'll Have What She's Having

Why do I feel uncomfortable starting this letter with a link to When Harry Met Sally? For the love of God, it’s 2019.
I’m fifty one years old—a mother—sex happens!
Damn that apple from the Tree of Knowledge.

Now that I’ve got your attention, can we talk about the scene’s last line?

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”

Yesterday I read a meditation from J. Krishnamurti in which he offered a metaphor that I’ve stolen and transformed….

Your neighbor has a fountain in his backyard.
When you visit,
you admire the sun’s rays glinting off its cascading water,
the bubbling sound calms your senses,
you feel vibrantly alive,
and abundantly full of peace.

You want a fountain.
Not your neighbor’s.
Your own.
This wanting has created a crisis inside of you.

Looking past the plastic pink flamingos on your neighbor’s front lawn,
you ring his doorbell,
while ignoring the static of broken shutters and peeling paint.

The beauty of his fountain beacons.

He answers.
You ask, “How did you build your fountain?”

He replies, “It was a long process…certain I can’t even tell you how. What I can tell you is where I got some parts…and refer you to books and videos I read and watched when I started. I’m still adding….sometimes, subtracting….mostly by feel. There’s no other fountain like mine. Never will be. C’mon…Want to take a closer look? Then you can decide if you have the where-with-all to build your own.”

“Oh….I’ve got the where-with-all. Let’s go.”


Grateful to all readers who have shared their fountains.
Mine is coming along, with dancing drops and tinkling murmurs.
I’ll keep building, knowing that even if I eat the same meal as you, my fountain will be unique.

Any questions?
Ring my doorbell any time.


Can you hear the music,
see the sunrise,
smell the baking apple pie,
feel the downy softness of a pup’s fur,
and taste the sweet and savory of butter pecan ice cream,
hiding beneath bluster?

The sun often hides behind clouds, but you know it’s still there.







The Gift of Now

Dark before dawn’s approach, clouds spitting intermittent drops, Henrietta and I rounded the retaining wall. Feet and paws climbed the grassy slope leading inside. With the exuberance of a six-month-old Labrador Retriever, Henrietta snagged a treasure from the flower bed. Confident it was nothing harmful, I paid little attention.

We ascended the deck stairs and approached the sliding door to our kitchen. I reached down to unclasp the fourlegs collar and she whipped her head quicker than Jack jumped over the candlestick.

“Whatever you’ve got, it must be good,” I said.

In the dark, without aid of spectacles, I was blind to what was between her molars and incisors.

I slid the glass door open to warmth and candlelight. We stepped inside and I reached again to free Henri from her jingle-jangle necklace. My second attempt was successful. Tucking her rear, she scrabbled for purchase on the kitchen tiles. Once safely on the carpet, she gave me the look. Even without glasses I read, Catch Me If You Can written all over her posture.

So different from Mara, who last year at this time, could barely hobble the steps.

I accepted Henrietta’s invitation. Several trips around the coffee table and she was tossing and flipping her valuable curl of mulch. I offered taunts of I’m gonna get it, and claps of encouragement. So what if the rest of the household was still asleep?

In that playful moment…nothing else mattered.
Dogs are perfect for that. Grounding us. Grounding me.

Since we brought Henri home in July, There has been a lot of comparison to the two labs that shared our life before her. Much of the side by side happens in my solitary mind, some out loud with the family. She does this….She doesn’t do that…..I wish she would….. I miss….Isn’t that a unique behavior…. Yesterday I was happy to have a snout pointing up at me while I chopped carrots. Mara loved carrots.

Just now, in real time, Henri looped her front paws over the arm of my desk chair and dropped a soggy shred of toilet paper roll onto my thigh.

A gift.
And a reminder that Henrietta is Henrietta, not Mara or Elsa.

Thankfully, I keep learning the importance of seeing the dog that’s in front of me.
Right NOW.


So…here’s my nudge.

Can you see the dog in front of you without remembering the dogs of yesterday? Even if it is the same dog?

Is every interaction an opportunity? For better? For love?


Happy Thanksgiving!

Her Thinking Left No Choice

After tying her laces, Maggie grabbed the the counter’s edge and hoisted herself to stand. An extended fit of coughs left her pressing a thumb into her ribs in an attempt to relieve her back spasms. The Advil had yet to work its magic.

Walking predawn, Maggie’s poodle Jake must have sensed his owner’s discomfort because he walked like an angel—no pulling.

The envelope laid face down on the asphalt. Letting out a tiny gasp, Maggie bent to pick it up. The red, white, and blue stamp and handwritten lettering told Maggie the letter was more than marketing junk. She didn’t recognize the recipient’s name. Examining the address on the closest street mailbox and comparing it to the envelope, Maggie deduced that she’d need to move a few houses west to find the right box.

“That’s odd,” she said to Jake, “…this address does not seem to exist. How did this letter end up on the ground?”

Maggie considered dropping the envelope—pretending she hadn’t seen it. Nope! This letter might contain something important.

Next, she thought about stuffing the letter into a random mailbox. She already struggled to hold the leash and a full green poo bag while wiggling Jack’s reward treats from her jacket pockets. Nope! That wouldn’t be right—problem finders are problem solvers.

And so for the rest of the walk, Maggie carried the letter. She’ll drop it at the post office when she next goes into town…maybe for some chicken soup.


As we think, so will we be. As we are, so will we do. ~Lee Thayer


Do you watch your thoughts? Got any that need revision?

Once upon a time, I would have sprawled into a long explanation and apology for not keeping up with this daily newsletter. I’ve changed my thinking about that, recognizing such thoughts are more about me than you.

Hi! It’s good to be back. I’ll write again when I have something worth saying.

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