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Travels With Maggie: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

Maggie don’t know a damned thing about monthly names. September don’t mean spit to my girl, the same with April or January, just human words, random sounds to her, heard and discarded like needles in a homeless encampment.

But she knows change. She senses seasons and their changes, and no one can convince me otherwise.

What say you? Are you up for a walk down a country road with a man and his dog? Multiple changes taking place this September; let’s see how many we can notice on our stroll.


We’ve Been Discovered

It was bound to happen. What was that Joni Mitchell once wrote: “They pave Paradise, put up a parking lot.” That’s what’s happening on our walking path. Two years ago, when Maggie and me began our daily walking ritual, there were six five-acre lots for sale along the road leading to our kids’ farm. That’s changing rapidly now. One house is nearly completed; another is framed; and the other four lots have money down on them.

I saw a hawk sitting on a truss yesterday. There’s some serious irony in that scene.

Six new families looking for their slice of Heaven, and I can’t say I blame them, no doubt it’s pretty out here, no doubt peaceful, the American Dream, that mythical quest, awaits anyone with an imagination, a quarter-million bucks, and a hankerin’, but still, it’s a whole lot of disruption to my tranquility.

Cause and effect . . . one man’s quest detracts from my serenity . . . and such is life. I now know what the Native Americans felt when the wagon trains began rolling across the landscape.

Maggie is curious, of course, running up to the construction sites, sniffing this, pawing that, occasionally barking at the unknown, probably wondering where the hell that hundred-foot maple went to so suddenly, and these are the strangest damned trees she’s ever seen, but for the most part Maggie adjusts to all that quicker than I do, no surprise there at all. The work crews know her by name, shout out greetings as we pass by, and that softens the disappointment a bit, as friendliness always will.


The Shadow Knows

Shadows lengthen this time of year, the sun lower on the horizon, something many people don’t notice, little changes and yet significant. It seems, to me, I’ve spent a good portion of my life chasing my shadow, but there were times it seemed the opposite, me being chased by it, and I’m not sure which is disconcerting and which comforting. Ask the Shadow, the Shadow knows, to borrow from an old radio program, but on this particular day the Shadow ain’t speaking any truths at all.

There are times when life seems so transparent, the secrets so easy to discern, but most of the time, for me, it’s like trying to make out specific details while looking into a dark forest. It’s damned near impossible to penetrate the darkness . . . or finding clarity in a Fun House mirror . . . a fool’s quest at best. So it is for me on this day. Questions of considerable bulk and substance, about existence and life and the meaning of it all, assail me as I walk, and I simply do not have any clarity about any of it. Seventy years of experiences and lessons, trials and tribulations, and none of it helps me to clean the lenses and allow for 20-20 vision.

Maggie, on the other hand, has no such concerns. She simply is. Her surroundings simply are. She responds to stimuli I can’t even sense or recognize. She is not encumbered by past experiences; she’s a cause and effect, spur-or-the-moment sort of girl, and at that moment my girl is wagging her tail wondering where the hell her treat is.

God I love this dog! Unconditional love and loyalty . . . where else are you going to find it? Perhaps, if you are truly lucky, you will have one or two friends during your lifetime who will stick with you no matter what. One would hope family would fit that description but I know from personal experience that isn’t always the case. But a dog . . . God bless them! I think dogs were put on this earth to teach us about the original hope for humans, and there’s some serious irony in that statement, that we needed teaching in being human.


Nature Is Wrapping It Up

The wild flowers are fading. Tree leaves have lost their vibrant green, and specks of brown and yellow can now be seen on the maples, oaks, and elms as I look upward. A breeze kicks up and I’ll be damned if some leaves don’t start falling from the trees. September, first week, seems a bit early to me, leaves falling, but what do I know about the natural order of things? I’m just a traveler on this path called life, here for a brief time, not long enough to learn it all, and my trip is slowly coming to an end. There’s nothing ominous about that statement, it’s happening to all of us, the blink of an eye and it’s all gone, and there are times I swear Maggie understands that fact as well.

Squirrels are doing some serious scurrying up above us, high-wire acts without a safety net, preparing for the long winter ahead. Maggie gives them a long look, sniffs the air, and looks at me in understanding. Yes, Maggie girl, it’s time we moved on. We have errands to run, chores to do, and quiet time later for petting and words of friendship. We turn for home to the smell of leaves burning not far away, a plume of smoke rising above the tree land, a sure sign of Fall, universal, understood by all.

Sweet melancholy sweeps over me on this day, Maggie noticing, more affectionate than normal, she is, and once again I’m grateful for my girl. A dog knows, don’t kid yourself, they are tuned into their owners and they just know when extra lovin’ is needed, and for about the thousandth time in two years I am incredibly grateful for this dog.

“There’s nothing to be done about it, Mags,” I say to her. “We can’t hold back the tide, and we can’t stop aging, so let’s just live the rest of our lives balls-to-the-wall and howl at the moon every chance we get,” and Maggie wags her tail, barks, and sprints for the truck.

Just a man and his dog, walking down a country road, but a whole lot more as well.

I am reminded of words once written by a man named Thoreau:

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness, weakness.”

Again, Maggie instinctively understands those words. Life is basically very simple at its core. Only man has managed to complicate it over the thousands of years.

Life is living. It is not profit statements, it is not jealousy nor is it greed. Life is not borders nor is it ultimatums. Life simply is, and the more we embrace the is-ness of it, the happier we will truly be. The more we accept the simplicity of it all, the more contentment we will experience. The more days of love we accumulate, the further away we will travel from discord.

Maggie agrees, and that’s good enough for me.

Just a man and his dog, out for a walk. Thanks for joining us!

© 2019 Bill Holland


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 19, 2019:

You do the same, Zulma!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 19, 2019:

Well, my work here is done. Have a great day, Bill.

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

They truly are, Zulma, and your words have me laughing, so they definitely have value.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 18, 2019:

Stubborn or determined? I suppose it depends on how things turn out. If you get the desired result, good on you for never giving up. If things go belly up, well that's what you get for being so stubborn. Words are great, aren't they?

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

Never bet against me in the stubborn category, Zulma. it doesn't always work out well for me, but at least I'm consistent.

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

Thank you Li-Jen! I offer to you an open invitation to join Maggie and me any time on a walk. All you have to do is fly to the States. :)

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 17, 2019:

Who's more stubborn? I couldn't even begin to hazard a guess to that one. Let me know how it works out for you. lol

Li-Jen Hew on September 16, 2019:

Hey Bill. That was a nice walk apart from the construction site. Sorry you had to see the change unfolding before your eyes but glad you managed to see what was once there, long enough before it's gone! Your diary is truly appreciated. Thanks!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2019:

I really appreciate that, Genna! Thanks for taking the time to go on a walk with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2019:

Thank you Mona! We all have strengths in writing. Work with yours and allow them to flourish.

Genna East on September 15, 2019:

"God bless them! I think dogs were put on this earth to teach us about the original hope for humans, and there’s some serious irony in that statement, that we needed teaching in being human." So true and so beautifully stated, Bill. We can learn so much about who we are, not just as part of humanity but part of life, if we just paid attention to what surrounds us. It's why I love your walks with Maggie. The two of you are attuned, each in her or in his own way, with life. Thank you for this beautiful series, and for taking us along on these walks :-)

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on September 14, 2019:

Dear Mr. Bill, I love the way you write. You wrote about a walk with your dog, and in its telling you managed to wrestle everything beautiful and meaningful along the way by using your words flawlessly and making this walk a story that can be universally told and appreciated. I would love to be able to do what you just did in this article. Have a great day:)

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

I'm sorry to hear that, Liz! We do become protective of our serenity, don't we? It hurts to lose it.

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

Zulma, I loved the smell of burning leaves and fields. Sigh! As for Toby, he is incorrigible when it comes to the chickens. He doesn't harm them, but he sure drives them crazy. lol The work continues I'm afraid. We'll find out who is more stubborn, him or me.

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

Thank you Nithya! My problem has always been a need to complicate life, when in fact it is all rather simple in design.

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

Thank you MizB! At least until your life is over...amen to that. I can't stop progress, but I sure what to enjoy the "old days" as long as possible while I'm still kickin'

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

They are indeed, Sha, and I'm giving them free rein. It is all part of life, and today I can welcome it all without the need to self-destruct.

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

Thank you Peg! I would have fumed as well as that neighbor constructed their home....but what are you going to do? You can't stop the human tide.

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

Thank you Sean! Respect and gratitude are sent right back to you.


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

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Devika! It is a wonderful time to be had on a farm, for man and dog alike.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 13, 2019:

This is a great perspective on the changing seasons. We live in a village that is fast becoming a town due to construction work along its outer edges. What was once a country view for some becomes a building site and then a view towards another house.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 13, 2019:

That's the downside of having a brain that goes beyond instinct. Sometimes I think we cause problems just to give our brains something to work on.

The smell of September, before it was banned, the farmers used to burn the fields at this time. I came to associate it with autumn. It's gone now and makes it harder for me to mark time passing. I really miss it.

Enjoy your weekend, Bill.

PS Is Toby ready to join you and Mags yet?

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 12, 2019:

Life is simple as long as we don’t complicate situations. We can learn a lot from Maggie and embrace the simplicity of life. I enjoyed the walk, thank you for sharing

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 12, 2019:

Bill. I envy you and Maggie in your wilderness. You know, some anthropologists conclude that civilization would not have made it on earth if man had not had dogs to help them. But I do abhor the fact that many of our wildernesses, including yours, are coming to an end. My father was all about “progress”. He passed away in 1985, and I have the feeling that he would have changed his mind if he’d known what destruction it would bring to our rural areas.

Enjoy the peace and tranquility while you can. The same is happening all around my area, too. I just hope my little hillside stays rustic at least until my life is over. Give Maggie a hug for me, and have a good rest of the week.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 12, 2019:

Bill, thank God for our pets. My cats always know when I need some extra lovin', too. Whether I'm sick or just feeling blue, they'll stay by my side for as long as they feel my melancholy.

I know how you feel seeing trees felled in favor of concrete. There were trees all around me for decades until a developer came in and tore down my paradise and all the wildlife that shared it with me. Fortunately, I have many trees in my backyard that what's left of Nature's critters still enjoy. I welcome them with open arms.

Take care my friend. Let those melancholy moments flow. They're there to heal.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

She is truly good for me, Dora. I absolutely love this dog and her kind wisdom.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

I love you statement, Peggy, that progress can be defined differently by different people...so true!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Thank you Ruby! I am serene today, which is amazing considering my alcoholic past. Today simply is, and I'm fine with that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Thank you Heidi! Yes, changes all around, and to try and stop them would be like holding back a hurricane with outstretched arms.....I am working on just being in the now. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Love that story, Monkey. It will be interesting to see who goes first, me or Maggie. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Always, Ann!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Such is life, Flourish, but thank you. It's not mine to hog for my own enjoyment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

Thank you Linda! Fall is my reflective season. I don't know why that is but it always has been.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 12, 2019:

I will, Pamela, and thank you. It's the slow loss of my childhood friend which has me sad, but this too shall pass. The sadness will be replaced by sweet melancholy and all will be well.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on September 12, 2019:

"High-wire acts without a safety net," I love that description, Bill. Along with the ambiguous reality of people building on what used to be vacant land. Progress? Maybe.

We lived out here on 10 acres for nearly 25 years before we got a neighbor, to the lake-side of us. As we fumed during the construction about the altered view of our sunsets and horizon, now, 5 years later, we accept the changes as inevitable. Where cows once grazed. . .

You're so right about dogs living in the now. They don't worry about tomorrow or yesterday. They just sniff out the new and different. :)

Loved your story.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on September 12, 2019:

Not Maggie alone, my brother, but all Nature is a great teacher for us all. Teaching us how to remember to live in Paradise again! You are a great teacher too, for us. Thank you from my Heart!

Respect and gratitude for all the beauty!


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 11, 2019:

It is great to have Maggie with you and I agree that open space for dogs makes the outdoors welcoming and nature does it for you. I lived on a farm and had two dogs they were loose in this open field and enjoyed freedom there.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 11, 2019:

Maggie brings so much philosophical insights out of you. She is so gifted. Thanks for sharing the many lessons Maggie teaches.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 11, 2019:

We lived in our former home for 27 years and there were vacant lots nearby. We could let our dogs run loose back then. Slowly new homes were built and what was once wild and open became suburbia. So I could relate to your loss of tranquility in that area near your kids' farm. My uncle who used to live in Iowa also mourned the loss of open farmland when subdivisions were erected in place of the farms. Progress can be defined differently by people. I love your strolls with Maggie.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 11, 2019:

As usual, I walked with you and Maggie and visualized the hawk overhead and the leaves falling. BTW my grass is covered in brown leaves and it is 90 here today. I don't like winter, but as you say, " Get used to it because it's nature's way." I sensed your serenity as I read your words. Life is good, if we let it happen. Thanks for taking me along.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 11, 2019:

Agreed, our pups sense so much more than we can ever know!

But I have to say that after living on the same block for getting close to three decades, it's interesting to see the ch-ch-changes that have occurred for our area. Houses that once were, are no longer. A mix of almost century-old structures and trees against something under construction. A lot of stories in between both extremes.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your journeys with us!

P.S. Read your blog about your friend Frank. I know there are a lot of changes coming that will be inevitable, but memorable. Thoughts are with you both!

RoadMonkey on September 11, 2019:

Great story, as always. I am reminded of a little story I read about a boy whose dog died. His parents thought he would be upset and told him that dogs don't live as long as people. "I know," he said. "You told me that life is to teach how to live to get to Heaven. Well dogs don't need as long as people to learn that."

Ann Carr from SW England on September 11, 2019:

That sounds very wise, bill. Thank you.


FlourishAnyway from USA on September 11, 2019:

Animals do seem to be especially tuned in to our feelings and needs. It’s too bad that urban sprawl has impacted your special place.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 11, 2019:

Thanks for sharing another walk with Maggie, Bill. A dog can be a wonderful companion. Your reflections about life are interesting, as always. Fall can be beautiful, but it does make one think about the future.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2019:

Maggie is your faithful companion for sure, but Bill you seemed sad on this walk. Yes, a new season is upon us, and you see the changes earlier since you live in the Northwest. Life does seem to pass by more quickly as we age, but you are still able to take your walks to enjoy nature as it changes with the seasons. You have gotten ready for winter with your chopped wood, etc. Enjoy each day to the fullest, Bill!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

I love that, Jo...a man who counts his trees...yep, that guy can be trusted. Thank you for sharing that this morning. You made my day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

Lest we forget indeed, Mr. Happy! Genocide it was and no white-washing of it will change that. We done them wrong and in so doing we stained our souls.

The purpose of man....only in our own eyes. Still not sure what I think of divine intention...I'll get back to you on that topic. In the end it really doesn't matter what my thoughts are about divinity...we will all find out when our own darkness descends upon us.

Have a brilliant week, my friend, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

Yes indeed, Linda, but that melancholy is necessary and I'm fine within it for awhile. I'll snap out of it as always....thank you for your large, open heart.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

Eric, I may have an IQ, but I'm nowhere near as smart as my dog. I'm not sure how I feel about that. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

I hope he does too, Nell, but I understand the heartache. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

Ann, a waxing lyrical Wednesday it shall be. I'm winding down my writing portion of the day. Maggie is patiently awaiting the walk, and then I'll see what I can do to tidy up the backyard a bit. I'm not nearly as dedicated to my chores these days. I'm looking for quality, not quantity, in my actions.

Peace and love heading your way, my friend


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

All is well, Shannon, thanks for asking, and I wish the same for you. Thanks for checking in.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on September 11, 2019:

What a beautiful thing to read this morning, Bill. We have our little five acres here Tennessee. I followed the bulldozer driver around when the driveway was being constructed to be sure no more trees than were absolutely necessary were taken down. He finally told me he understood. Said he had 182 trees on his two acre lot. I figured a man who counted his trees was okay to cut my driveway.

I love the Thoreau quote.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on September 11, 2019:

"God I love this dog! Unconditional love and loyalty . . . where else are you going to find it?" - Nowhere.

"I think dogs were put on this earth to teach us about the original hope for humans" - "Original hope" huh? That's like before we were? The Intent of our Being? If that's so, what was that "original hope"? I am interested beyond what words can express. : )

"The wild flowers are fading." - The leafs on my tomatoe plants started changing colour and last week when I was up north (roughly 350km/217miles north of Toronto) it dropped down to 5 degrees. Ohh, 41 for You weird Americans lol Get on with the metric system already and Celsius degrees! Geez ... lol

"Squirrels are doing some serious scurrying up above us, high-wire acts without a safety net, preparing for the long winter ahead." - Here's a fun fact: roughly 5% of squirrels do not collect their own nuts, they steal them from other squirrels. Also, the one who actually work, hide about 7,000 nuts for the winter and they remember correctly 4,000 of those hidden nuts are. Now, if I hid ten nuts in the ground I would probably forget where some are, haha!!

"Only man has managed to complicate it over the thousands of years." - Aho to that!

Now, on to the most difficult part: "I now know what the Native Americans felt when the wagon trains began rolling across the landscape."

It is no secret I lobby for the First Nations and I have been fortunate enough to be able to spent time on Reserves and to have many Ojibwe and Cree friends. I'm off to the last Pow-wow of the year this weekend actually. A sad time always because I will now have to wait until the snow melts next year for another Pow-wow.

So, they lost their land but unlike You, they were forced on Reserves and not allowed to leave without the white man's permission (at least here in Canada). They were not allowed to speak their language, nor practice their cultural ceremonies. It was a genocide in every way imaginable. Lest we forget. (There is so much more to say but I shall not write a book in your comment section, haha!!)

Thank You for your words and may Wakan Tanka always walk with You and Maggie!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 11, 2019:

Sweet melancholy Bill. This entire post is filled with a wistful sadness. You are observing the introduction to a new season and quietly awaiting the phone call that you know will come any day now signaling another loss, the end of another chapter. Maggie is so attuned to you. She loves you totally and unconditionally and senses the change in you. Keep her close and soak up every precious moment. I care about you and you are in my thoughts.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 11, 2019:

Our seasons are very strange here. Compare to where I grew up. We are headed into/in our dry hot time. It will cool down in about November. But they are seasons nevertheless.

Love to Maggie -- I just never thought that dogs do not know months. We see the big change of seasons, they are more atuned.

Nell Rose from England on September 11, 2019:

I love it Bill! Just you and Maggie noticing the changes. My son lost his lovely dog a couple of weeks ago, he was heartbroken when it died. Said he would never have another one. But I hope he does.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 11, 2019:

Absolutely brilliant, bill! This is exactly what I feel like.

I hate change but I know I have to accept it and that I'm not the only person who needs to live in a different way, who needs somewhere to call home.

I try hard to stick to the simplicity of life and not worry about the rest but it's not easy, is it? I've had dogs and I often wish I now had one like your Maggie, as I could do with the understanding of one of those faithful, loyal creatures.

I shall just have to try even harder to hold on to the basics, accept life and revere the simplicity of my natural surroundings.

Even Autumn makes change more acceptable, with its wonderful russets and yellows mellowing the evidence of decay which we too must go through one day. Melancholy but content is my sentiment at the moment.

Thanks for taking us on your walk today, bill. I've delighted in your vistas and your relationship with the marvellous Maggie.

Wishing you a waxing lyrical Wednesday,


Shannon Henry from Texas on September 11, 2019:

Change can be hard, but it's definitely a lot easier to just roll with it. I am good at it sometimes. Other times, not so much.

I've been super busy lately, so I haven't been around as often. Hope all is well with you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2019:

I will do that, John, and Maggie says to say "thank you" to you.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 11, 2019:

I enjoyed the walk alongside you and maggie, Bill. We can learn so much from our animals, dogs especially. You are right, we manage to complicate life in so many ways. Dogs do show us what it was supposed to be like. Thank Maggie for the lesson in simplicity.

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