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A Walk Around the Neighborhood: A Reflective Moment in Life

A Crisp, Clear January Afternoon

A new puppy needs to exercise.

An old body needs to exercise.

Perfect incentives for me and Maggie on a clear winter’s day.

She’s full of piss and vinegar, that Maggie is, and me, well, I’m full of something for sure. Maggie is also inquisitive, as all puppies are, the world unfolds before them, new sights, new sounds, new scents, everything worth inspection, so walks with Maggie tend to be slow-paced as she soaks it all in, this new world, this exciting world, tail wagging, nose to the ground, bristling with anticipation as we turn corners and walk the walk.

Me, I’m old, approaching seventy, been there, done that, seen most blocks in this neighborhood many times, eight years worth of gazing, know the streets by heart, recognize the houses, recognize the faces, same old, same old, not much new to see, just walking the puppy, trying to stay warm and in some semblance of good health.

Say hello to Maggie May!

Say hello to Maggie May!

Down Eastside Street

A young mother, pushing a stroller, long brown hair, almost copper not brown as the sun illuminates, clear complexion, rosy cheeks, hesitant smile as she approaches, baby wrapped in several layers, chubby enthusiasm, the baby and Maggie sharing that, Maggie whipping her tail, baby wide-eyed, mother wary as she well should be, me putting on my least-menacing smile, wishing her a great walk . . .she stops to pet Maggie, impossible not to do so, Maggie almost demands it, “my your puppy is beautiful,” she says, and I say thanks, “how old is your baby?” six months she says, so proud she is, so in love with that miniature person, she is absolutely beaming now, and I find myself smiling wider than at first, such a ridiculously mundane experience somehow turned so special.

We say goodbye, Maggie reluctant to do so, having one’s stomach rubbed is a real pleasure, you know, and we continue down Eastside, several people returning from shopping, or work, or errands, hard to say which, but a good bet, and school must have ended as evidenced by the gigging batch of pre-teens walking with backpacks towards me, Maggie’s tail beating seriously hard at that point, probably imagining multiple tummy rubs at once, a dog’s Nirvana, and then there they are, probably ten or eleven, miniature adults without the albatross of adult issues, puppy love overcoming warnings about strangers, and I’m suddenly sad that this is a world where young girls even have to worry about such things, but maybe it’s always been that kind of world, you know, evil has always existed, and always will, so maybe we are just more aware now . . . or just more fearful and distrusting . . . heavy thoughts as the young girls reach down and pet the furry universal carrier of love and good tidings, and for thirty seconds the puppy and girls bond as the old man stands by reflecting on life.

Out and about

Out and about

Hang a Right on Bethel

There’s roadwork ahead, big machinery, flag man thirty feet in front of us, guy nearing forty, dressed for the chill, orange traffic vest over Carhartt bibs, looking tired, looking surly, or troubled, hard to tell which, and the clang of machinery has Maggie nervous, shrinking back, looking to me for assurances.

The guy with the flag waves us ahead, I nod, he nods, two ships passing in the night, on a brilliant sunny afternoon, him buried in his thoughts, me still reflecting on young girls and puppy love, out of the reflections comes “is that an Airedale” and I tell him no, a new breed, Northwest Farm Terrier, Airedale mix, thirty years in the making, and then he’s reaching down his hand, letting Maggie know it’s okay, a sniff, a lick, the tail begins once again, and “nice dog you’ve got there,” and “you take care now,” and for ten seconds, whatever was weighing him down was gone, a sniff, a lick, a wagging tail, and then the mask of indifference falls again, the weight returns, and he’s all business and Maggie and I continue.

Little old lady on the corner, pretty silly of me to say that, me being almost seventy, but she looks ancient in comparison, waiting for the bus, bundled up, an oval shape covered in layers of cotton looking our way, hard to tell if she sees us or not. I hear the bus approaching from behind me, so does she, evidently, the shuffle towards the curb begins, glacier-like, tiny increments of ground made up by size fives with Velcro straps, mud puddle between her and the spot where the bus will stop, surely not going to end well when the bus arrives, surely a spraying on brittle bones, but the bus driver was on his game, slowing perceptibly just before that stop, no splash or spray at all, and as the octogenarian climbs the steps she looks back and Maggie and me, smiles, waves, says “God bless you,” and she is gone in her chariot.

Heading for home

Heading for home

Hang a Right on Miller

And another old lady awaits, this one with a trash-picker-upper, one of those pointed sticks you use to stab pieces of litter, that’s what she’s doing, stab, stick inside a trash bag, stab, stick inside a trash bag, moving slowly along the curb, bundled up for the Arctic chill although it’s really only forty above, chill yes, Arctic no, stab, stick, stab, stick, sees me and Maggie and mutters something, too low to hear, “excuse me, I didn’t hear you,” head rises, hazel eyes focus on me, “I said I don’t know why people litter, seems so thoughtless to me,” and I agree with a nod of the head, looking for words while she looks for trash, “I’m sorry they littered your yard, ma’am,” and she shakes her head, a white lock of hair coming loose, down to her cheek, “no, no, this isn’t my yard, I just want the neighborhood clean for everyone,” and then she’s back to stabbing, sticking, stabbing, sticking, and Maggie and me are left to ponder civic responsibility in the year 2018.

Kids unload from a van up ahead, a harried mother shooing them all inside the house, the wind picks up, others walking their dogs, hand in hand, or ignoring each other, and others raking leaves, some trimming trees, some on the front porch for a smoke break, a break from what I do not know, living life, I guess, we’re all living life, seven billion of us with troubles and joys, memories and nightmares, ingrained wariness and devil-may-care, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, homeless and living fat on the hog, all there to see on a sunny, crisp January afternoon as Maggie and me make our way home, the warmth of a wood stove, the coziness of a loving house, in the bosom of family, just like when I grew up, different address but still, same old same old, back then four billion, the numbers adding up fast and furious, opinions galore, viewpoints, convictions, worries, ignorance, brilliance, aimless and focused, each with a story, each with secrets, it always has been and always will be.

Tomorrow another walk, and another, and another, a way to stay connected, to feel a part of it all, the bigger picture, surrounding me . . . surrounding you.

Me and Maggie, out for a walk . . .

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 06, 2018:

Larry, thanks for stopping by. I love your last sentence...they deserve....yes they do!

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 06, 2018:

Yes Bill, a walk with the dog is always an experience. I will never get tired of it. My dog, Cookie, a 10 year old beagle still has to smell everything in sight. A walk that should take a few minutes can easily turn into an hour. I would not have it any other way though. A dog's life is short so they deserve as much attention as we can give them. Loved your story, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 12, 2018:

Yessir, Lawrence!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on February 11, 2018:


Especially when we take them for walks!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 11, 2018:

Thanks Lawrence! Dogs really are our best friends.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on February 11, 2018:


Dogs do that, they break the ice, and melt a heart.

Every time I'm out with my dog, I get, "What a lovely puppy." I don't have the heart to tell them he's eleven!

I'm also happy to read the bus driver was 'on his game' and made it easier for the elderly passenger.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2018:

Thank you so much, Delores! I never knew what I was missing until we got Maggie!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 30, 2018:

Hi Bill - we drive through our neighborhoods and just don't see what is there. But a nice walk gives us opportunity to really see what the locals have done, things they planted, paint jobs, ornaments, etc. And the opportunity to meet people. A lovely companion like Maggie sure helps as an ice breaker. You described your walk so beautifully!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 17, 2018:

I really appreciate that, Larry! Thank you for the kind words.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 17, 2018:

You paint such vivid images. Great read!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 17, 2018:

Thanks for the virtual walk, Frank. You're good company.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 16, 2018:

thanks for allowing us to take the walk with you.. didn't get the excersize, but saw the reflections through your words

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2018:

I'm happy to hear that, Nithya! You can walk with us any old time you want.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 15, 2018:

Enjoyed the walk with you and adorable Maggie May. Looking forward to more walks in the future.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2018:

Very true, Dora! Thank you for walking along with us. Maggie enjoyed your company.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2018:

Aww, thanks Alyssa! We think she's pretty adorable too.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2018:

I agree Kari! I can't go on a walk now without talking to several people...a huge change from the past.

Thank you!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 15, 2018:

Thanks for taking us on the walk around your neighborhood. Yours is prettier than mine, but there are similar opportunities for reflection. Good read!

Alyssa from Ohio on January 15, 2018:

I love this! Thank you for taking us along on your walk! Also, Maggie is adorable. :)

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on January 14, 2018:

Maggie is beautiful! Walking the dog is always a good excuse for getting out for a walk. People tend to talk to you more often, I think.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 14, 2018:

Thank you Devika! I'm glad you had the time to walk with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 14, 2018:

I would imagine so,Brian! :) Thanks for taking a walk with us.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 14, 2018:

A walk makes one feel happy and less stressed out. Instead observations take us further in thought. An interesting share about your walk.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 13, 2018:

Very much like walking a dog in Kalamazoo.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 13, 2018:

Bill, hanging with Maggie, one learns to stop and smell many things. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 13, 2018:

Isn't that amazing, Chris, the doubling of the population during a lifetime? Just mind-bogging for me.

Anyway, I hope you get that dog...they are a pure pleasure.

Thanks my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 13, 2018:

Michael my friend, it was a pleasure having you walk along with us. Thank you for joining us. Let's do it again very soon.

Blessings to you always

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 13, 2018:

Sally, truth be known, Bev, her daughter, Maggie, and our other dog, they all have me wrapped around their fingers. :) I'm a sucker for females I'm afraid. LOL

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on January 13, 2018:

Bill and Maggie, thanks for the tour. We miss so much at times. Who was it that said, "stop and smell the roses"

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 13, 2018:

Hi Bill. Civic duty in the year 2018 and the near doubling of the world population in your lifetime are two items wordy of reflection. I’m jealous. I want a dog and will probably get one in the spring or early summer. This was a pleasant stroll filled with thoughts about the important things in life.

Michael-Milec on January 12, 2018:

Perfect picture video as you took me with you for a pleasurable walk along with Maggie. Excuse me, it's only my imagination while reading as if me being there. Masterly chosen words describing to the details wholly a delight to my constant appetite for learning. Thank you my friend.

Blessing and prosperity with you.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on January 12, 2018:

I so enjoyed my walk with you and Maggie! I am of the opinion that this little one has you wrapped right around your finger! Reminds me of a man locally who has just acquired a puppy. He says people, who never spoke to him before now stop to chat with him on his daily walks. It has such a positive impact on his life that you can now see the spring in his step. The little dog has completely rejuvenated his life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2018:

Janine, you're never late, my friend. You are right on Janine Time! LOL You have been faithfully following me for years. I think we can ignore a two day delay.

Have a great weekend, and thank you!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on January 12, 2018:

Aw, Bill I am so sorry I am a little late to the game today. I was in and out yesterday with a full schedule. But playing catch ip right now. I am so glad I stopped in, because Maggie is adorable and absolutely loved hearing about your recent walk around your neighborhood with her. Happy Friday now :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2018:

Thank you Gilbert, for the very kind words. I've always been a watcher and observer. It has served me well in writing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2018:

Very true, Linda! I didn't realize that fact until I started walking Maggie! Thank you as always.

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on January 11, 2018:

Bill, you have a remarkable skill of awareness of your surroundings and communicate your emotions, the people and their emotions, and the world around them. You have a very cute dog.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 11, 2018:

This is an enjoyable article, Bill. It reminded me of the walks that I take with my dog. A walk with a dog is very different from taking a walk alone.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

My pleasure, Pop! Thanks for walking along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Thank you Peg! That was my goal in writing this.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Thank you so much, Louise! If Maggie is with us for fourteen years I'll consider myself a very lucky man.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Suhail, you touched upon the one part of the walks I do not like....other dogs and aggression. :( It can be a bit trying at times, keeping my dog safe and out of trouble....but so far it's worth the effort.

Thank you my friend, and blessings to you always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Really, Jackie? How remarkable is that? Small world for sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

I certainly understand the anxiety in today's world, Mary. Take care on that next walk.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Very sweet of you, Denise. I totally understand your husband. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Thanks so much, threekeys. It was nice having you walk with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Thank you Mary! I love your series idea. Now for the time issue. :)

breakfastpop on January 11, 2018:

Thank you so much for this walk through your world.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 11, 2018:

I loved taking this walk with you and Maggie around the neighborhood. With eyes open we can spot all sorts of joy and difficulties within our scope. You've captured the essence of life right here in these words.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 11, 2018:

Aww Maggie is lovely. Dogs make great little friends, don't they? I've had my dog for 14 years and love him to bits.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on January 11, 2018:

Hi Bill,

I was able to relate.

This was absorbing and fun reading.

I am not sure if you remember I told you of an incident sometimes in August 2014 during which I had lost a usb drive that contained several of my articles meant for hubpages. There was an article along the same lines as yours that I had written that got lost with that usb. However, now that I just read your article, I recall my piece was much more depressing for it touched upon people and their dogs that K2 and I used to meet all the time during our walks and who had departed for heavenly abodes. It also touched upon the fact that several school children who used to come running to greet us were turning into their teens and were not to be seen often.

A walk with your dog is healthy, but can sometimes become frustrating as well, especially if some neighbourhood dogs and your buddy develop an intense dislike for each other LOL.

I hope and pray that we get more of those civic responsible type lady that you met.

Finally, it was a pleasure to read your hubs again.


Suhail and my dog K2

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 11, 2018:

Great comforting story, Bill, and small world. Seeing your last photo just reminded me that is where the daughter and family of my friend Jean that I wrote about (who passed) lives.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2018:

How beautiful. I felt like I was walking with you and Maggie and reflecting on life and our world as you do. From now on, I will relax more when we walk and not get anxious thinking about the things that could happen to us in a walk.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 11, 2018:

Haha. My husband used to say something like that. A very funny man, he used to write drama sketches for the church, then direct them and sometimes even perform in them. Each week people loved them, laughed, and couldn't wait for the next one. He used to say he felt he was only as good and the next drama; never being able to rest on the success of the last one. That's sad. No one can live like that for long. However, I have confidence that you will turn in a stellar piece each and every time!



threekeys on January 11, 2018:

Very warm story Bill. I felt right at home with you and Maggie as "we" languidly ambered along the streets of your neighbourhood. Reminded me of those days my dog Sam and I would do our daily walks out in the local neighbourhood. Miss that.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 11, 2018:

Isn't it amazing what we notice when we take the time to get out of our own head?

You could make this into a series!

Maggie goes to the beach.

Maggie and I go to the park

What Maggie sees from the truck window

Life beyond the picket fence.

She brought a lot of pleasure to many people, on your little stroll.

Wonderful observations.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Denise, that is so nice of you to say. Thank you very much, my friend. Now look what I have to live up to in my next piece! Talk about pressure! lol

Blessings always


Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 11, 2018:

Brilliant! Bill, I absolutely love your word pictures. The "albatross of adult issues" was especially epic. In those four words, I suddenly flashed the entire poem of death and loss and hunger and thirst and dead albatross, as well as adult issues. Now that's a real writer! I feel small and insignificant, bowing to the master! Thanks for sharing what could be mundane but was described as an adventure voyage.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Meg, you had me laughing with that last bit..distracting chatter and sighing. Yes indeed, Maggie does none of that. The longer the walk the better for Maggie May.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Awww, thanks Sha! I guess that's a signature of my style/voice. I just fall into it naturally when writing pieces like this. I appreciate the kind words, my friend.

RoadMonkey on January 11, 2018:

Enjoyed hearing about your neighborhood. A dog is the perfect companion on a walk like that; no distracting chatter or sighing.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 11, 2018:

Bill, your run on sentences force the reader (this reader, anyway) to read in staccato. This creates a very real sense of the brain trying to register everything it sees as quickly as it can as you and Maggie explore the neighborhood. Brilliant!

I wonder how Maggie's thoughts would read....

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

My pleasure, Zulma! It's a miserable day here today. Not sure we'll be going for a walk. Maggie doesn't mind, but this old man ain't too crazy about downpours.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Mike, the damned thing is addictive, but so far I've stayed in control. LOL thanks buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Eric, you guys and weather. It's been quite a winter for all of you so far. Here's a toast for calmer days ahead.

Have a great walk with that boy of yours. The years gobble up those opportunities faster than we want.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Linda, the first thing I thought of after the first walk with Maggie was I wish I had her in my early twenties when I couldn't buy a date. LOL women love a man with a puppy!!!!!

Thanks for the kind words. I'll try to live up to them.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on January 11, 2018:

It's too cold and drizzly here for me to go walking. Thank you for letting me accompany you and Maggie.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on January 11, 2018:

Good morning Bill - You certainly have a way with words. Don't let that Fitbit control those walks.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 11, 2018:

When I was older then I walked my dog, but I am so much younger now I walk my son - or he walks me.

Today I will walk to his school with the basketball so he can dribble home. So much to see after our "storm". I can't believe it but in a month we will be playing "catch walk backwards' getting ready for baseball. Thanks for the reminder old man.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on January 11, 2018:

Bill, I don't own a dog but I sense that having a puppy is not too far removed from having a toddler. Take them out for a "walk" and you view the world with a new set of eyes, see things you normally would have ignored, really stop to examine and consider.

Of course, you probably do more observation than the average bear. That's what makes you such a great writer. You study people and places and situations.

I have a feeling that Maggie is making even YOU slow down your pace a bit more, and we'll be reaping the benefits of even more observations from Mr. billybuc.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Thanks so much, Heidi! I'll tell Maggie you said she was cute. She'll be beaming the rest of the day.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 11, 2018:

Being a dog walker myself, I can so relate to the experience. Same streets, different stories every day.

Maggie May is so cute! Thanks for sharing the updated pic!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2018:

Aww, thanks Cris! It's so nice to hear from you again. I hope you are well. Happy New Year to you!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on January 11, 2018:

Super love it Bill and the way you stitches word to describe your day, your neighborhood and the people around like a movie scene. So vivid, so real yet very poetic. What a wonderful read! Nice to meet Maggie.

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