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Travels With Maggie: Saying Hello To Blessed Fall

It’s been a while, and I apologize for that. Summer is a busy time, and my normal schedule of walking the dogs, and writing about it, oftentimes gets pushed to the side as chores demand more attention. Not that the dogs aren’t walked; it’s just that, once I’m out of my normal schedule, I’m afraid everything is a crap shoot at best.

That’s a long-winded way of saying thank you for joining me and my dogs on a late-summer walk around the neighborhood. If you have walked with us before, you know that the journey begins where the pavement of the driveway ends and the wonders begin.

Let’s go!

A look down our street

A look down our street

The Changing of the Guard

It happens in such small stages, one really must pay very close attention to notice the arrival of fall weather, and the slow disappearance of summer. The calendar may say August 20, 2021, the dog days of summer for sure, but in the Pacific Northwest, fall has begun to gently flex its muscles.

It happens by the smallest of degrees, literally and figuratively. The morning temperature is just a bit chillier. The evenings cool off an hour or two earlier. Those are the things you can easily notice, if you are paying attention, but there are subtler changes afoot as well, the vibrant greens softening, the appearance of dull yellows, gentle browns, the colorscape gently mellowing, reminding me of Donovan and his mellow yellow song of years passed.

By late August the plants are deadheading, seed pods are appearing, and others are simply giving up the ghost, exhausted from providing months of vibrant colors, feeding the pollinators, and painting the landscape with a dazzling treat for our eyes.

The dogs notice. I am convinced of that. They are observers of the highest order, my Maggie and Toby. What they lack in color-recognition they more than make up for with their sense of smell. There is a smell to Fall. Pay attention and you’ll notice the difference in the air, from July to August to September, the molecules moving at a different pace, the bouquet of scents different as healthy vegetation begins to slowly decay.

I wonder how many people take the time to notice this mystical, magical transformation?

A touch of Fall

A touch of Fall

Not Everyone Does

A microcosm of the population as a whole, these walks are. I pass by people who are texting and streaming on their phones as they walk by the cornucopia of nature. I saw it twice yesterday during a one-hour walk. During that same walk, though, I saw a young woman, laying on the grass under a weeping willow tree, smiling as she looked up through the branches, and a couple, shuffling along, mid-eighties my guess, animated as they pointed to the first red leaves in a maple.

The pace of our walks is quicker this time of year. The dogs are more lively, more eager, like little children faced with a new playground, temperatures much-more conducive to walking than the brutal heat we had in June, reminding me of a long-ago friend, living in Las Vegas, who said his walks start at six a.m., end at eight, and after that “it’s air-conditioning, baby, sweet air-conditioning until bedtime.”

I wonder what Fall looks like in Vegas? I’ll never know, not while I’m surrounded by the Pacific Northwest, my home for most of my life, never lacking in beauty, never lacking in eye-candy, never lacking in inspiration and exultations.

Bev and our "kids"

Bev and our "kids"

Our Kids Are Lively Today

That’s how we think of Maggie and Toby, our kids, our children, so important they are to our daily lives. Some might find that strange; dog-lovers will understand.

Maggie, more often than not, plays the role of the Grand Dame, the aristocrat, above it all, too cool to partake in childish pleasures, aloof and oftentimes appearing to be bored by it all. Toby, he is the court jester, always the eternal child, finding fun in every circumstance, his tail a constant blur of wagging and merriment. But on this walk, on this day, Maggie is every bit the rambunctious child that Toby is, nudging me with her nose, jumping up on me, I swear to God I can see her smile at me as if to say “come on, old man, let’s play,” and she has me laughing two blocks into the walk, her joy infectious, my heart swelling.

Toby, he wants to chase a squirrel on this day, then a rabbit, and an honest-to-the-heavens deer walks out of the woods in front of us, and Toby is so excited I think he’ll levitate with joy. He wouldn’t know what the hell to do with any of them if he actually caught them, but as it is with our lives, the joy is often simply in the journey, the chase, and not with the moment of catching whatever it is we are chasing.

Lieutenant Al Stephens

We pass by an assisted living home, two blocks from our property, and outside, walking with the aid of an aluminum walker, is Lieutenant Al Stephens, he of the Korean War, a veteran from Waco, Texas, and he says howdy to Maggie, howdy to Toby, and extends his hand to shake mine, a frail man now, once a ranch hand, once a mechanic, a humble man who thinks my dogs are handsome, a man milking the most out of what time he has left, greeting everyone who passes him with respect. Soon it will be time for Al to take a nap and dream of herding Longhorns onto the south forty, maybe a meeting up with a local beauty at the bar after the ranch chores are finished, or maybe walking point, long ago, in a war not of his making.

Maggie and Toby wag their tail and pass along positive vibes to the old soldier, letting him know he’s noticed, letting him know he matters, my two kids respectful of their elder, somehow knowing just how special that man is.

Not All That Uncommon a Meeting

We meet many people on these walks. Some are simply hellos in passing. Some become friends, information shared, real connections, like Katie, recovering from breast cancer, and Pete, the Aussie, a jogger, been in this country twenty years, still has the accent, friendly man with an Outback smile. These walks are a microcosm of life, one way to look at it, a handful of meaningful connections, a ton of surface connections, people moving through life, passing each other, lives pulling them this direction, that direction, seven billion in number, all meaningful, all brief glimpses through the eyes of others.

We don’t have time for them all. How could we? Mission Impossible on any given day, just enough time for ourselves, our meaningful others, our jobs, our passions, seven billion little universes revolving around each other, each and every one of them as important as the next, each as insignificant as the next, depends on your outlook, I guess.

For me, Maggie, and Toby, we meet as many as possible on these walks and, if we’re lucky, we actually connect with a few, and that adds spice to these journeys, spice added to wonder, and isn’t that grand?

Thanks so much for joining us today. You can find us most days, same time, same place, where the pavement ends and the wonders begin. You are welcome any old time. We would love to connect with you, really connect, you know?

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2021:

Chrish, I will give them that hug. Thanks so much for joining us. You are always welcome.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2021:

Denise, here's hoping your fall arrives sooner rather than later. It's been one hell of a hot summer, and we all deserve a break. Blessings to you always, friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2021:

Lora, you are welcome here any old time. We'll leave the light on for you, and Maggie and Toby would be happy to share a walk with you.

Lora Hollings on September 13, 2021:

You said it Bill! It makes me grumpy too. I get tired of swimming. I'm more of a hiker. And I love the four seasons too, especially Fall. So what am I doing here? It's a long story! But, I do plan on making a move soon. Thanks for the invitation. I love the natural beauty of trees and especially autumn and I know where you are, you have an abundance of these. So what am I doing in the desert? Sometimes on a very clear night with the stars shining bright ( I think that's a song lyric!) and large Saguaro cactus, I see the beauty in its wide open spaces. But, I can tell you one thing for sure. I won't miss the heat! I would love to join you in your charming town or at the very least have a toast to better times! Best to you, Bev, Maggie and Toby.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 13, 2021:

That's unbelievable to me, Lora. Anything above seventy-five makes this man a grump. lol I don't know how you do it. We will always have room for you here in Washington if you ever come to your senses. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 13, 2021:

I forget, Lora, but don't you live in Arizona? I don't know how you do it. I truly don't. I wouldn't last a week living there in the summer. Come on up to Washington where you belong. LOL

All true, what you said about our dogs. Animal cruelty is something I will never understand. It's just beyond my comprehension why people would mistreat a dog.

Anyway, sorry I'm late with this comment, and thank you.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on September 11, 2021:

I call my fur babys ''my love'' more often than names. i so love seeing their sparkling loving eyes whenever i call them my love, truly priceless.

The wander and wonders along the way was absolutely fan! Hope there ar more people who'd like to say hi and give a smile on our next walk!

I so enjoyed the walk! and oh i forgot to give your giants a super power hug please let them know {wink}

Lora Hollings on September 11, 2021:

Even though we're still getting temperatures in the low hundreds, I am grateful that we had a real monsoon which kept many of our plants going and temps are finally beginning to drop at night. Although, I wish they would drop a lot earlier. We find ourselves walking our dogs at 11:30 or even at 12:00 AM as it is still too hot to take them earlier. Thank you for your walk filled with magic, wonder, and love! It was delightful.

Lora Hollings on September 11, 2021:

This is such a beautiful and contemplative piece of writing, Bill. I love how you observe the subtle transformation which is taking place between late summer and fall. And you are so right. Dogs do notice what most people don't. They are observers of the first order and they have an uncanny talent for reading people and sizing them up, accurately. My dogs are like children to me as well so I certainly understand your attentiveness to meeting their needs. I only wish that everyone could be like this and treat their pets like family members which is who they are. I'm so glad that fall is coming. It couldn't happen to soon for me.We're still getting temps in the high nineties and even in the triple digits but the evenings are beginning to cool off much more

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 10, 2021:

How I'm looking forward to the cooler weather. It feels like fall only lasts a week around here in the San Joaquin Valley. Summer lingers till October and then winter sets in. I love the fall colors and wish we had more here. Thanks for the walk.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

This really is a lovely area, Linda. You'll have to drive south sometime soon and visit us. We would love to buy you lunch.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

Nithya, thank you! You are always a joy to walk with, my friend. Join us any time you can find the time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

Thank you John! We appreciate you walking along with us. Enjoy this weekend of spring arriving in your neck of the woods.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

Thanks for walking with us, Brenda! You are correct, Toby and Maggie are absolute joys.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

Hey, Greg! I think we had out last day of 80 yesterday. The long-range forecast looks like the long, dry summer is about to end. I hate to say, out loud, that I'm looking forward to the rain, for fear it will never stop, but the cooler weather will be greatly appreciated by this old man.

Have a great weekend, buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 10, 2021:

Thanks for walking along with us, MizB. Interesting about the leaf change you've noticed. I don't know if I have an opinion that has any veracity at all. The climate change makes sense, but so does the pollution. Perhaps a combination of the two and may God have mercy on us all in about ten years.

Happy Weekend, my friend! We made it to another one.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 09, 2021:

It sounds and looks like you live in a lovely area, Bill. It must be a great place to go for walks with your dogs.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

Thank you for those kind words, MG, and thanks for walking along with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

Linda, you will never be a dull girl.

The zoomies? I know it well. Toby demonstrates practically every night. We just turn the tv off and let him entertain us. He's much more entertaining.

I hope the packing is progressing nicely. Good luck, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

I will do that, Bill! He's a good man, that Lt. Al, always eager to smile and exchange a word or two. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

And thanks a second time, Peggy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

We were very happy you joined us, Peggy. Thank you for the company.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

Pamela, it is my belief that all neighbors are interesting and have fascinating stories. We just have to do a little digging to unearth them.

Autumn in Florida does not sound too colorful to me. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2021:

Always a pleasure, Miebakagh! Thank you for stopping by. I hope to see some new writing from you soon.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 08, 2021:

A wonderful walking experience, I enjoyed the walk. Many people fail to see the transition between seasons and miss out on the glory of nature. As we go it is the small exchange of a hello or how do you do brightens our day. As you say it is the chase that matters and so we travel on with hope.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 08, 2021:

I enjoyed this walk with the dogs, Bill. Lt. Al Stephens sounds like a wonderful man that deserves admiration and respect. Your descriptions of the start of Autumn (Fall) are wonderful and I could see it in my mind, but the videos were wonderful as well.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 08, 2021:


I always enjoy tagging along on your walks.

Tobi & Maggie seem like such a joy.

The air does change with each season & I guess the doggies get that too.

Have a great day .

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on September 08, 2021:

Another great walk with you, Bev, Toby and Maggie, Bill. I especially enjoyed meeting Lieutenant Al, hope you thanked him once again for giving of himself, his time, he being for our well being. I'm sure you did, or sure you have before. I agree with you about this time of year. We're not quite there yet, but fall is falling slowly, will land soon, and we'll be into my own favorite time of year, as well. Changing leaves, Friday night lights, less smoke from the burning West. All of these are welcome.

Thanks for taking us along, Bill. As always, a wonderfully written essay on life, the universe and everything. Best to you and Miss Bev, my friend.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 08, 2021:

Ahh, Bill, what a walk -- to see and visit with all these neighbors. How fortunate you are. Our little subdivision, actually there are three subdivisions conjuncting each other, don't really have that many people outdoors at the same time like those in the city do. Toby has really grown, and I can't tell him from Maggie now.

It will soon be cool enough to start walking again here now, and I'm really looking forward to it. But not yet, 91 degrees is still a little warm.

I began to take closer notice of the trees of autumn right after the meltdown of Chernobyl. One summer when we lived in an older neighborhood in Little Rock, I noticed the tops of the trees looked burned, and it was too early for the fall changing of the colors. I'm noticing that is occurring again. Larry says it's sunburn from climate change, but I wonder if it may be some kind of pollution.

You live on a lovely street. I love Washington State. It reminds me a little of my Arkansas.

MG Singh from UAE on September 08, 2021:

Enjoyed reading your article. Great to be able to walk with you by reading such a beautiful article. You really have the hang of life and know how to put it on paper.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 08, 2021:

Bill, thank you for allowing me to tag along with you today. It's been far too long since I've gotten out to stretch my legs and enjoy the sunshine. (All packing and no playing makes Linda a dull girl).

Fall has never been my favorite season, but through your eyes, I can see the beauty, and I thank you for that. Yes, I do "smell" the approaching season. I can feel it in the air's chill at dawn and dusk, and I can hear it in the busy-ness of the squirrels gathering hazelnuts and the male deer running about like a puppy doing the zoomies (I know you understand exactly what I'm talking about).

I will miss those things. Next year I'll be in a new place, in the city. I hope you'll toss me a "travel with Maggie" every once in a while to remind me of these times.

My love to you.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 08, 2021:

Hi Bill. Fall is starting to appear here also, and I’m loving it. The days are shorter, the mornings and evenings cooler, and the forecast has nothing but 70s in it for high temps. You can even see a few leaves here and there starting to turn. It’s great that you connect with some folks on your walks and give Lt. Al our thanks for his service next time you cross paths.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2021:

Oh how I look forward to cooler, crisper days ahead. I love autumn and I loved tagging along with you and your pooches on your walk. Thanks!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2021:

Oh how I look forward to cooler, crisper days ahead. I love autumn and I loved tagging along with you and your pooches on your walk. Thanks!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 08, 2021:

I love everything about autumn, the beautiful colors, the smell, the birds and small critters running around. I miss it and have tried to travel north when possible.

I enjoyed the walk today, Bill. The dogs were a delight and I am glad you are enjoying the change in the season. You seem to have some interesting neighbors also. Thanks so much for this lovely walk.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 08, 2021:

Bill, you Fall season differs from mine greatly. Mine comes in December. Thanks for an interesting read.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thanks for joining us, Sha! I think there is a chemical explanation for the different smell, but that would ruin it by explaining it. lol I will indeed say howdy to Lt. Al for you. He is a good man, eager to chat when he sees us. I'll tell him next time that he is now famous. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thanks for joining us, Maria! How exciting, the new puppy. It is so fun to see the world through the eyes of a puppy. They find everything so exciting. They are so happy all of the time. It really is a wonderful thing, to have a puppy. Best wishes to you and Max.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 08, 2021:

Bill, it's so true that Fall has a different smell to it. It's been many years since I lived in a state that actually has seasons, but I can still smell the damp leaves and the pungent scent of maples, oaks, and birch. They seem to take on - or give off - a different smell once the weather cools and the nights get shorter. This walk jogged a pleasant olfactory memory for me. Thank you for that.

I smiled when you mentioned the woman who lays on the grass, smiling while looking through the tree limbs to beyond. I remember well the many times I'd grab a book and a blanket and head to the park to sit under my favorite tree. So relaxing and peaceful. Sometimes I'd even fall asleep under the gentle breeze.

This walk with you, Maggie, and Toby was a breath of fresh air. I love your observances and appreciation of what many people take for granted, or simply don't take the time to notice.

Say hello to Lt. Al for me!

See you next time, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thank you Dora! I'm wondering what autumn in the Caribbean is like? Cooler temps I would hope? Fall colors?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thank you always, Misbah, and Happy Autumn to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Magenta indeed, Manatita. Leave it to the poet to find the perfect description. lol Blessings to you, and thanks, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thank you Rosina! I hope there are many more walks with the dogs. I would hate to lose this tradition.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Mr. Happy, as always, you have given me a good dose of your reality, for which I am grateful. Me, I love the journey. I spent a great amount of time during my life trying to be perfect. Now I'm pretty happy with the journey towards being better but not perfect.

Have a great September day, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 08, 2021:

Thank you Umesh! I appreciate you taking the time to walk with us.

MariaMontgomery from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 08, 2021:

I am envious of your gently approaching fall weather. Here on the gulf coast, it is still hot, although today is cooler -- in the eighties instead of nineties. It's raining, so it's also steamy outdoors. our new puppy, Max, is still too young to take on long walks, so he just plays and runs around our yard. Next week he will get more shots, including his rabies shot, then we will take him on a short walk. I, like you, enjoy seeing all the colors change, and seeing the flowers in the yards of our neighbors, as well as chatting with those who are out. I look forward to seeing them again when it's cool enough that folks will once again be out walking more. Thanks for taking us along on your morning walk.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 08, 2021:

Fall is my favorite when I'm exposed to the differences in the seasons. Enjoyed the walk with you and the kids. The introduction to the lieutenant was a nice touch.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on September 08, 2021:

Hello, Mr. Bill Taking a walk with you and your dogs is always a pleasure. Thank you for the wonderful read and a pleasant walk. Happy autumn to you and your loved ones.

Blessings always!!

manatita44 from london on September 08, 2021:

A most charming and exquisite piece, as usual. I also note the colour of the trees. Rose-pink; magenta? Looking at such beauty, is a most curative balm from Covid-19. Excellent work!

Rosina S Khan on September 08, 2021:

It was nice taking a walk with you and your dogs and enjoying the fall season in your world. It is still hot summer here and so I did enjoy the walk for a change. Wish to partake in many more walks with your dogs and enjoy the seasons. Thank you, Bill.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on September 08, 2021:

"I wonder how many people take the time to notice this mystical, magical transformation?" - It's hard not to. My ghost-peppers and jalapenos are mostly all red. The buds om my cannabis plant are as long as my forearm ... hard not to notice such things, haha!!

"I wonder what Fall looks like in Vegas?" - I saw Christmas in Florida and Cuba and my mind was so confused seeing Christmas trees while my body was sweating profoundly. Not for me. I need cold and snow.

"That’s how we think of Maggie and Toby, our kids, our children" - One of my friend's kids are becoming teenagers and he was complaining how they don't want to snuggle with him anymore. I told him that I heard from an elderly lady once that young kids are like dogs, always happy to see You, ready for hugs at any time but when those kids get to the teenage years they become like cats. They will come for dinner/food and perhaps when they need one thing, or another but that's about it. Changes happen all the time and all around. We have to adapt.

"but as it is with our lives, the joy is often simply in the journey, the chase, and not with the moment of catching whatever it is we are chasing." - Not me amigo. I set my Intent and the point is that Intent, not the process of achieving that Intent. Do You really think that I am loving the renovations right now? Not really. I mean I do not hate it, otherwise I would not do it but I want to see this bathroom leave the 1980s and join the 21st century. The process .... may the Gods help me. Haha!!

And with that, off I go to do some grocery shopping and rent that tile-cutter. You have yourself a joyful remainder of a week - cheers!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 08, 2021:

Nice description of the oncoming fall and its beauties around. Well presented Bill, in your own nice ways.

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