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Travels With Maggie: And the Blind Shall See

Autumn Has Arrived

It happened quickly this year, hardly any warning at all, as though Nature was just plain tired of the heat and long days and decided to pull the plug overnight. One day it was ninety and the next thunder, lightning, and darkness by seven.

Just a man and his dog, walking down a country road, surrounded by the crispness of autumn in Olympia, Washington, a bright October day greeting us.

Won’t you join us?

Listen closely and you can hear the changes happening

Listen closely and you can hear the changes happening

The Crispness of Autumn

On this particular day the sun is struggling to rise above the tree line. Twenty-eight degrees the night before turned the softness of summer into the crispness of autumn overnight. The ash, the cedar, the fir, scrub maple and birch, all brittle now, the suppleness gone from their limbs, they snap and creak and moan in the wind, as though just the thought of the oncoming winter made them sad and old.

Sounds seem amplified in the fall. Squirrels overhead can be easily heard as they scamper. Rodents scurrying in the brush are no longer muffled by the soft under-footing and instead are amplified, meaning Maggie hears it all, every field mouse, every guinea hen, every mole and gopher, weasel and coyote, stealth takes a vacation in the woods, during the autumn. Comings and goings are announced, intentionally or not, and the predators silently celebrate as their jobs have simplified considerably, Darwinism in surround sound.

There is no mystery to the forest in October. Leaves have fallen. The line of sight is extended. What once was a foreboding, menacing shape is now revealed, simply a tree trunk, nothing more, nothing less.

Colors Transform Slowly

Unlike Vermont where green turns to red seemingly overnight, here in the Pacific Northwest the changing of colors is almost deliberate in its realization, just a hint here, a hint there, greens first mute, slowly fade, replaced by greenish yellow, weeks to orange, still more weeks to red, not vibrant hues but, still, a welcome feast for the eyes and soul.

This will be the last autumn for some, the first for others, an eternal tag-team of life played out before us. Maggie and I will disappear from the census, at some point, when our time has come, ashes to ashes, part of the landscape, feeding the soil, the soil feeding the plants, the plants feeding the inhabitants of the forest, and so it goes, the circle, uncut, uncensored, and unabridged, all as it should be.

Maggie races ahead to one of the two remaining fields along this road, rolls in the stiff, dead grasses, scratching her back, then leaps up and twirls, I swear my girl is twirling, a pup again, splendor and joy radiating outward, and I laugh and laugh and God it feels good.

My girl Maggie is always ready for a stroll

My girl Maggie is always ready for a stroll

Life is love and love is life! The love of my life, Bev!

Life is love and love is life! The love of my life, Bev!

The Spires of Oxford

To a dog the framing of a house, surrounded by woods and fields, must appear as spires appeared on the Middle Ages landscape, spear points reaching for the heavens, strength and devotion, abnormal and magical, symbols of grandeur. Maggie doesn’t quite know what to make of the wooden ribs, the beams . . . a skeletal preview of some antediluvian beast about to rise from the fall rains, or a friend whose purpose is yet unannounced. She walks the perimeter, sniffing, probing, inspecting, and then repeats inside the body of the beast, her tail down, guarded and yet hopeful, not unlike most of us as we face each day, guarded and yet hopeful, the default setting of the human species, for we have seen the antediluvian beast face to face, and we know what Maggie does not know, not yet, not now. My dog is still innocent, in her third year, and I want her to remain as such for as long as possible.

A Storm Approaching

The winds signal a shift. You can hear them coming, if you listen closely, molecules moving at high speed, displacing air, rushing through trees from miles off, a very subtle, muted sound, growing louder as it approaches, subtle and yet important. Winds mean a shift in pressure, low pressure displacing high, cold displacing warmth, and on this day the shift is sudden. Birds erupt from trees overhead, and ground grasses bend, as if one, Maggie’s coat ruffling in the same direction, and for a moment she is alarmed, not quite sure what is happening, but then as is her norm she lifts her snout to the air, sniffs, recognizes God only knows what, and calms down again. It’s amazing to see, this one act play, all happening within a five minute span, nature changing, my dog recognizing it, reacting to it, and signaling to me that all is well.

The blue is replaced with gray, the hawks harder to see with that overhead backdrop, and the sun disappears, just that quickly a new set is constructed for this play we call life. As we turn for our trip back to the truck, the first chilly raindrops fall, my girl not minding at all, her coat provides good protection, but me, I’m without hat and not too happy with my predicament. My steps quicken, in a sudden hurry to find the warmth of the truck, and Maggie reacting to the hurry-up, trotting now, knowing a treat awaits her on the front seat.

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” Stephen Hawking

Thee clouds blanket us

Thee clouds blanket us

Snug as a Bug in a Rug

I remember those words as Maggie and I sit in the truck, words of my dad tucking me into bed at night, snug as a bug in a rug, and I smile. Maggie puts her head in my lap and I run my hands along her damp coat, and right there, in that moment, all the problems in my world, which are miniscule by comparison, are gone. Silly concerns about unpaid bills and an impending move, concerns about friends dying and the frailty of life, they all disappear and it’s just a man and his dog, watching the limbs bend in the wind, the leaves falling from those limbs, and the skies changing in color, and there is great comfort in that simple moment of existing.

There is a lesson there, a sermon perhaps, for someone prone to sermonizing. Me, I’m just a simple man who has, at times, managed to make life difficult, but who finally pulled his head out and saw the truth of the matter. Life is love and love is life, there you go, tattoo that on your forehead for future reference, the truth of the ages for all to see, a truth as old as mankind, a truth my dog Maggie understood at birth and still understands today . . . life is love and love is life!

Thanks so much for joining us on our walk today. I hope you enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed yours. If you’re ever in the neighborhood we would love for you to join us again. You can always find us where the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” Albert Schweitzer

© 2019 Bill Holland


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 18, 2019:

Glad you could join us, Lawrence. I've never heard of the Pohutakawa Tree...now you've got me curious, buddy.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on November 17, 2019:


You're headed into winter, but part of me wonders if winter wants to let go down here.

Then again you get the pinks and reds in the fall, we get them in the spring, but the best of them is the Pohutakawa tree with its own inbuilt Christmas candles.

The walk was awesome, and just what I needed.

Thank you


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 13, 2019:

Always my pleasure, Denise. Thank you so much.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 12, 2019:

I always love your walks with Maggie. The play of words is downright musical. You paint a vivid picture of wet leaves and quaking trees. Thanks for taking me along.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 30, 2019:

Downright cold this morning, Sha! Suddenly 90 sounds pretty good to me. lol

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 29, 2019:

Ugh, it's almost November and we're still in the 90s. We're about 10 degrees above the norm for this time of year.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 29, 2019:

Thank you Sha. I love these walks and yes I suspect that Maggie adds to my senses and awareness. It's pretty cool, this bond she and I have.

Thanks for joining us.Bundle up next time. The temps dropped down to the low twenties this week.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 28, 2019:

Bill, Maggie seems to heighten your senses, as she uses hers so effortlessly. I wonder if dogs' senses are more acute than humans' because they don't take up precious space with verbosity. They communicate with their expressions and body language. Perhaps if we humans were to refrain from flapping at the jaw, we'd see more, hear more, and feel more.

This walk was especially reflective for me. Thanks for having me along!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

I will readily accept your offer, Nikki, if we ever make it over there. Thank you and blessings always.

Nikki Khan from London on October 23, 2019:

Bill, you’d fall in love with British landscapes. Let me know if you visit London, dinner is due on me.

Blessings my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

Anytime, Shannon! And good luck!

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 23, 2019:

Trust me, you do hope that! That's why I needed surgery. But thanks for the laugh. I needed that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2019:

Shannon, I think I'll pass on that experience...at least I hope I can pass on it. :)

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 22, 2019:

The pain, the nausea, the paralyzing spams. Nope, definitely not fun. It could be worse, I suppose. It has been worse. They told me quite some time back that I'd probably need surgery again. Don't think I'm there yet, though. LOL. I'm taking care of myself as best I can. Thank God for ibuprofen! And your peaceful walks, of course. ;)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 22, 2019:

Shannon, I'm cringing just thinking of kidney stones. Take care of yourself, my friend. That doesn't sound like any fun at all. :(

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 22, 2019:

LOL.....please don't release those, Sis! I'm beggin'

Suzie from Carson City on October 22, 2019:

Bro...I could never be angry with you! And I simply plead INNOCENT to any of the crazy memories you seem to have about our childhood! I never had to short-sheet your bed! You were 2 feet too tall for your bed, in the first place! I still have black-mail snap shots of your BIG old feet hangin off the end of the bed!

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 22, 2019:

Bill, don't shoot me, please! I missed this one. I saw it in the notification list, but I've been in one hell of a mood lately. Judging by the pain and the spasms of late, I have another freaking kidney stone to deal with, I think, and still trying to function halfway like a normal person. What a nice, calming walk. Enjoying the wonder of nature always helps. Thanks for the patience in my slow-going. Looking forward to the next one.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 22, 2019:

Thank you Nikki! I was watching a show filmed in the British countryside, and I just thought it was stunning to look at. I would love to drive for hours in your country.

Anyway, blessings to you as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 22, 2019:

Sis, I went to yours first thing this morning. No way was I risking your wrath again. lol I remember when we were kids you would short-sheet my bed when you were mad at me. Remember?

So glad you came along with us, Sis! Maggie is wagging her tail at the memory of it.

love from stormy Olympia

Suzie from Carson City on October 21, 2019:

Bro...You surely needn't ask me more than once......I'm always ready & eager to join you and sweet Maggie on another walk. This walk was especially peaceful and such breathtaking sights of Autumn, I would not miss this for anything, bill! You have a way of literally swooping me up and placing me smack-dab in the midst of it all. The audio of Tim Janis's "Autumn Leaves" is hypnotic, an ideal sound to accompany Autumn's beauty. Thank you, so much for the gift of Eva's soulful magic. I believe I'm her number 1 devoted fan....(an unavoidable sadness comes over me & of course, Maggie senses this)

I pictured you, driving along with Maggie's head on your lap...It is amazing when a moment in time can melt away our worries & lead us to once again, remember what "truly matters." How could we ever forget?....................."Life is Love and Love is Life." Simple.

Thank you Bro....Love, to you & Bev & Maggie....Sis

Nikki Khan from London on October 21, 2019:

Loved this walking of a man with a dog!

Yes, autumn is certainly arrived with chilled air and frosty nights ahead.

There is so much beautiful about this life and this universe indeed, we need to look around us to feel the love of life. We would be amazed with what nature has in it’s lap for us.

Thanks for taking us back to what we belong to, soil.

I fell in love with the pictures, blessings my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 21, 2019:

And I thank you, Sean, for being a living, breathing example of love.

Thank you my friend.


Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on October 20, 2019:

This magical moment, my brother, Bill, when a simple act of love and affection makes anything else so small and unimportant, is the meaning of life for a simple man like me. Thank you for the images!

Love from the Greek autumn!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 20, 2019:

It was our pleasure, Dora! Thank you and please join us again soon.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 20, 2019:

I can't imagine living where you live, Nithya! Far too warm for me.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 19, 2019:

Your description of Nature in this episode, in my opinion, shows a walk environment more beautiful ever. All my senses experience it. Autumn is also my favorite time of year. Thanks for letting me walk along with you and Maggie.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 18, 2019:

Autumn is a beautiful season, a treat for the eyes. Here in Dubai, it is always hot, hotter and hottest. I enjoyed the walk with you and Maggie, it must be awesome to walk among trees with vibrant colors!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

Well thank you Sharon! I hope one day you can enjoy the color transformations and snow. In the meantime, I will try to share my visions with you.

Sharon Lopez from Philippines on October 18, 2019:

I often read from my friends from various sites about the changes in seasons and I always love to see those photos and read stories about the different seasons. One of my dreams is to be able to see the actual color transformation and snow, of course. Thank you for sharing such lovely prose and please give my regards to Maggie.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

We do for sure, Meg. This is a very moderate area.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

Graham, you are too kind, but thank you! Have a splendid weekend, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

We are very happy that you joined us, Linda. You are welcome any old time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

Rochelle, I appreciate that. Let's agree that I have the heart of a poet. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

Thank you Heidi! No, it won't be long. Snow in the mountains thirty miles from us, and chilly nights for sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

Thank you very much, Liz! I appreciate you walking along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2019:

True words, Bill! Your retirement is now one week closer to becoming reality and I say hooray for you.

dreamermeg on October 18, 2019:

Sounds like the Pacific Northwest has a gentle, slower pace of Autumn.

Mr Graham Lee on October 18, 2019:

Yet another masterclass from you Bill. I could feel it all the way through. First class all the way - Graham.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 17, 2019:

Autumn seems to be rushing towards winter in this part of the world. I enjoyed reading another edition of Travels With Maggie. It's always interesting.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 17, 2019:

Sorry, Bill, you can no longer claim that you are not a poet. I think all who read this are having feelings aligned with yours. You painted a picture in our minds.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 17, 2019:

The dogs and I are always glad when fall arrives. So much more comfortable for walking! We haven't had a lot of leaf color changing or leaves dropping off trees yet. But, as you observed, it seems to happen quickly. We're getting near freezing at nights. It won't be long.

Enjoy the season and thanks for sharing your walk with us!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

Thank you Linda! Truthfully I'm just not that sad. I'm working through things, and reminiscing, and a certain amount of melancholy comes with the territory...but really not what I would describe as sad.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

Very true, Flourish! I have always found great comfort in the companionship of a dog.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

I appreciate that, Mary! We all have to suffer through the winter in order to rejoice in the spring. That's just the real of it.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 17, 2019:

Oh Bill I wish you were here with me. I want so much to give you a hug; there are no words of wisdom I can offer to wipe away your sadness. And maybe no words are needed. You know.

Next time you and Maggie go out, I'll be with you . . . where the pavement ends and the wonder begins. You are a treasure.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 17, 2019:

You paint a vivid picture of the changing seasons through your autumnal walk.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 17, 2019:

Enjoyed the walk, Bill. Fall is in the air here also. We had quite a storm last night, lots of wind and rain, and just like that a lot of the leaves came down. Enjoy your walks with Maggie, there is nothing better.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 17, 2019:

The sense of time resonates in your thoughts and references. It’s interesting how animals have a different sense of this and perhaps a reason why they can offer such comfort.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

Hey, Mom, so good to hear from you again. I hope you are well and you visit again soon. Thanks for joining us and enjoy that Florida weather.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

Ruby my friend I'm sorry about the tears, but always happy to have you with us. You are always welcome, you know. We will always make room for you along the path.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 17, 2019:

The leaves have turned to orange, red and yellow in our part of the world and it is as always magic. It is getting colder though and with the wind, it is harder to walk. What lessons you share with us by just walking with Maggie and you. It is very enjoyable.

TripleAMom from Florida on October 17, 2019:

Glad I'm back to read your work again, though peeked some while I wasn't writing myself on HP :). Your descriptions are beautiful. Here in Florida we are also just beginning to feel some fall weather. It was actually in the 50s when we woke up. Always enjoy you!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 17, 2019:

Here I sit, crying like a baby. You write so beautifully and I'm fragile since losing my son. I guess I will be content with winter, but it's going to take awhile. It was in the 30's here this morning. I still have blooming flowers. I enjoy the time I spend with you and Maggie. I can feel the closeness you two share. What a wonderful thing ( love )

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

I will do that, Eric and I wish you a safe journey of renewal. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

Thanks, John! It's always a pleasure to have you join us on these walks.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 17, 2019:

And in our surrender we can once again be a part of and not a part apart. Snug as a bug in a rug is my saying, other people say it? Mulch. There is a season of Mulch. I can smell it in my treks. Why would I want to hug a tree with no leaves more than one with full leaves? I am soon off on a second journey this year to meet a dying friend. And yet that seems to be a renewal of life. Strange.

Give Maggie a good butt scratch for me.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 17, 2019:

What a delightful walk this week. A little shower of rain never hurt anyone haha. I enjoy the philosophy contained within these walks and the quotes by Hawking and Schweitzer were wonderful. I also like the:phrase you coined “Darwinism in surround sound.” Looking forward to next week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2019:

You and me both, Pamela. A recent trip to Oregon to meet up with my dying best friend was what it took for me. Now I just want to love and learn, and that's what these walks are all about. Thank you for joining us.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 17, 2019:

It is nice the walk ended before too much rain, and I felt like I could smell that autumn cool air while walking with you. I really like the Stephen Hawking quote, as I am always seeking out new things to see and to learn. When I quit that I will have met my maker I think.

Getting older without so many responsibilities seems to have awakened a more pressing purpose in my life to love people more and to learn new things. I enjoyed this walk immensely. Thank you Billy.

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