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Travels With Maggie: It's All Just Flesh and Blood

Are You Ready?

Maggie’s jumping up and down, barking. She does that every single time I grab the leash, and the only way to stop her is to hook her up and get her out the door. Toby, he’s a bit more laidback, oddly, and I say oddly because normally he’s sixty-five pounds of kinetic energy.

Would you like to take a walk with us? Meet us at the end of the driveway, where the concrete ends and the wonders begin.

Maggie and Toby are ready!

Maggie and Toby are ready!

It’s Fall and Beautiful

I think the dogs love walking this time of year more than any other. It’s cooler, which they like, and they love to walk on a carpet of fallen leaves. Toby, he loves to grab leaves with his snout, push them up in the air, and then grab them as they fall. It’s great fun for him and entertaining as hell for me.

When I was a teenager I would take my dog, Pixie, on similar walks in the fall, and she loved them as well. We would walk past the Witherspoon house, the Langston house, and the Mertz house. I would wave to them if they were out, say how ya doing, then continue, to the Todd’s, the Gordon’s, Streitz and Hoffman.

I was thinking about that the other day, those walks, in the fall, back in 1960, during the Presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon. Our family, we were Catholics, and we were rooting for the Democratic, Catholic candidate, Kennedy, but that wasn’t a popular thing to do. Believe it or not, there was an anti-Catholic movement back then; the country had never elected a Catholic for President. Anyway, I remember there being quite a bit of conflict over that election, and some seriously angry people when that damned “Pope lover” was elected.

Our neighborhood!

Our neighborhood!

But What I Don’t Remember Is This

I have no clue whether my neighbors were Republicans or Democrats.

I really don’t!

I couldn’t tell you how the Mertz family voted. The same with the Todds and Zetterbergs and Gordons. If it ever came up in a conversation during the twenty years I lived in that neighborhood, I don’t remember it. I remember a hell of a lot of conversations about baseball, and barbecues, and helping each other with outdoor projects. I remember talks about kids having the flu and older daughters getting married and deaths in the family, but not a single word about politics.

Isn’t that strange?

And we were the only Catholics in the neighborhood, and I don’t remember a single word about our Catholicism, nothing like “those damned Catholics,” just howdy and how ya doing and do you need any help with that, and isn’t that strange as well?

The Walk Continues

Heidi is out raking her leaves. So is Joel across the street, and Alana down at the end of the block. The dogs wag their tails in greeting as I add my “good morning” to the sounds of the neighborhood, garbage can lids, car alarms, mothers calling their kids, mixing with the songs of birds, the whisper of a breeze. I start humming “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” a song from long ago, by The Monkees, as we continue along our spongy carpet of oranges, reds, and yellows.

I don’t know Heidi’s last name. Same with Joel and Alana. I’ve known them now for close to ten years, and I may have heard those last names at one time, but I don’t think so. It’s just one of those things, pretty typical of neighborhoods these days, everyone seems to be too damned busy to buddy up with neighbors, surface conversations, a wave, a smile, and move on with life. I’m not laying any blame on anyone, not with me not knowing last names; I’m just tossing it out there, an observation and nothing more.

I don’t know if they are Catholics. I don’t know if they are Democrats or Republicans, and I’m fine with that. From what I can tell, they are good people, respectful, caring, and loving, and that, to me, is much more important than their political affiliation or which god they worship. And, most importantly, they all like Maggie and Toby, so they are of sound character.

My better half and the dogs!

My better half and the dogs!

A Quick Shower

That’s what Fall is like in our neck of the woods, passing showers, passing sun breaks, everything propelled aloft by the jet stream, a river of air, always loved that description, dipping your toe in that stream would require being suspended at twenty-thousand feet, hanging upside down, my imagination running wild now, giving human characteristics to an ethereal concept, welcome to my mind, my creativity, as Jeannie approaches, with her dog Elsie, big old yellow lab, friendly like all labs, and my dogs sniff, wag tails, Jeannie wishes me a great day, quick small talk, and I don’t know Jeannie’s last name either, sensing a pattern here in this “nameless” part of the Northern Hemisphere, we pass each other on a jet stream of our own making, busy people, preoccupied people, going in opposite directions . . .

And not a word is said about politics or religion, and I’m fine with that too.

A Noisy Leaf Blower

Up ahead, Maurice, a black guy, mid-thirties, blowing leaves all over the place with a gas-powered blower, across the street from him stands Peter, mid-sixties, another black guy, a piano repairman, blind believe it or not, and what an odd scene that is, two black guys within fifty feet of each other, in a ridiculously white city, like finding two purple snowflakes in a blizzard, and for the umpteenth time I wonder why Olympia is so white, strongly Liberal in politics, and yet whiter than white.

Maggie and Toby don’t much care about all that nonsense. They like Maurice. They like Peter. Their tails wag just as hard for a black guy as a white, just the way it is, just the way they rock n roll, pats on the head and treats given out don’t have no color associated with them, only affection and friendliness.

No politics spoken. No religious beliefs discussed. Just a man, his two dogs, and two black guys, first names known, last names a mystery, greeting each other, sharing smiles, sharing a bond which has no name, and yes, I’m fine with that as well.

The leaf blower cranks up again, doing battle now with a stiffer breeze, we all wave and move on with our lives, my dogs telling me it’s time for a treat, and I completely agree with them as the skies weep and random thoughts compete in my brain.

A Bear of Very Little Brain

Me and Pooh, and I’m fine with that, too, catch the poetry in that sentence, and we’re back home now, time to get on with the chores and errands, the dogs thankful for your company, and me as well.

I’ll let you form your own opinions and thoughts about that walk. Me, it’s pretty simple, I size-up a person by the color of their character, the way they treat others, and not by their politics or religion or any of that other nonsense. Show me respect, I’ll show you the same, and we’ll get along quite nicely. As for Maggie and Toby, well, I’ll let their wagging tails speak for them.

Thanks for joining us. We are back on the pavement of the driveway, which means the wonders have come to an end for this chapter in our lives, but we sure hope you will join us again on our next walk. You are all wonderful company, and we appreciate you, even if we don’t know your last names.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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