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Travels With Maggie: Slowly Emerging

No Hat Needed Today

It’s one of those day, folks, no rain in the forecast, a stunning blue sky greets us as we park the pickup truck and prepare for our walk. Put on some fleece, layer-up as we say in these parts, for the wind still nips at our heels on this fine fourteenth of February. Ten feet over yonder the pavement ends and the wonder begins.

Shall we?

Our playground

Our playground

A Slightly Different Locale

We’ve had to change our route a bit, not terribly important, but worth noting. People are building and moving in along our old route, and that means civilized laws, leash laws in particular, and I’m just too damned stubborn to leash my dogs up for a country romp, so we now walk along the farm Bev’s son and his wife own. Maggie and Toby, they don’t much care. During the winter months the farm has a natural wetlands on the lower acreage, with all manner of tall grasses and tadpoles and mice sprinting to and fro, the occasional duck, birds galore, certainly enough to keep my dogs busy on these walks.

The leash laws always remind me of a poem from long ago, one line in particular, “what more could please the soul than to walk free and know no superior?” and I understand the reason for the laws, and I agree with them, but still they sadden me. Dogs were meant to run, as were we, quite frankly, and not doddle along afraid of tripping and falling in a stately manner.

Stubborn raindrops cling to drab limbs, shimmering in the sunlight, quivering, as though afraid of the sudden invasion of brightness. The pasture grass is damp, of course, things do not dry out in Western Washington in February, despite the sunshine, and the dogs are damp within thirty seconds of our arrival.

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

And the Race Is On

Toby leading the way, a four-legged arrow released for flight, a cruise missile aimed for the wetlands, Maggie on his heels, and they leap from land to water, airborne both of them, landing with a splash, and I laugh as I have not laughed since the start of December, my personal black month, and God Almighty it feels good to do so. The splashing continues as I stroll along the withered firs, pines, maples, cedars, birches and alders, their grays stark against the blue sky and then, a slight shift of perspective, a tilt of the head, and small green buds appear, here and there, new growth reaching for the sun, such a small sign of incredible importance, the slow emerging from the depths of winter, a sign of hope, and I feel a smile spread across my cragged face.

Hopeful now, I look more closely at the ground and yes, right there, and there, tiny new shoots poking up, what they will be I do not know, but new life they are and in celebration I hear a bird chirp, then another, and I am reminded of ashes to ashes, from the fallen logs and winter’s mantel new life springs forth.

Let’s Play, Bill

Maggie races towards me, nuzzles me, implores me, for my girl is obsessed with the treats in my pocket. Toby, on the other hand, is all about playing, so I toss a stick thirty feet north, and my boy sprints hellbent, retrieves, and full-speed heads for me, water flying from his back, happiness and pride and recklessness rolled into one sixty-pound ball of fur as he drops the stick at my feet and barks loud enough for the next county’s residents to hear, and the game is on, stick after stick after stick. Maggie sits this exercise out; she has found, by nose, a mole or rat or some other manner of creature, and is frantically digging at a hole, dirt exploding, paws working furiously, her nose buried in the expanding tunnel, and I travel back in time, little boys playing with plastic toys in the dirt, our imaginations a fine substitute for today’s video games, hours spent with imagined scenarios, and my faithful terrier Pixie always close.

It’s pretty amazing, really, a dog smelling a mouse from ten, twenty feet away. What does a mouse even smell like? I cannot fathom how acute their senses are, and I’m oddly jealous of that ability but then, they don’t have thumbs, so I’ll always have one thing they don’t have, and my smugness returns.

Tobias the Wild One

Tobias the Wild One

New Friends

Toby sprints for the fence bordering the goat pasture, four pistons working in unison, and comes to a screeching halt in front of the llama, the guardian of the pasture, a docile figure unless she senses danger. The llama bends down, sniffs Toby, and Toby returns the gesture. Trust is quickly established, a tail wags, no spit from the long-necked creature, and a bond is formed. Oh how I wish it were that easy for us humans in this world dominated by distrust. Will we ever be able to trust again, the nightly news making it damned near impossible to do so, drive-by shootings, muggings, kidnappings, on and on we go, a species hell-bent on exhibiting its darker side.

I sigh!

That’s what these walks are for, or at least partially so. My dogs think we are out there to exercise, and that is partially true, but we are also here for me to learn to navigate life. I am the student, the dogs the teachers. They help me to decompress. They help me to see the good around me and to give that priority, a priceless gift I receive daily. For thirteen years now I have been emerging, like that crocus over there, straining upwards towards the sunshine of life, rejecting the darkness, the sadness, and the clouds of melancholy which have been my companion for far too long.

Today, and every day lately, the first thing I do in the morning is throw open the curtains and let the light in and that, my friends, is progress.

Turn the Page

The calendar turns to February, and soon March, and with it the sun climbs higher, and the warmth returns. Billions of flowers and plants will rise from the dust, trees will bud, and the bleakness of winter will give way to a cornucopia of color, Nature’s laser light show dazzling us daily, free admission, all that’s necessary is a willingness to see.

Toby and Maggie slow their pace, a sign of weariness. They play hard and they rest hard, and now is a time to rest. The truck awaits us on this fine February afternoon. Chores and errands are calling to me, and a well-earned nap is calling my companions. They have done their duty once more. They have educated me, once again, on the majesty of life, and I am grateful beyond words for the lesson.

A treat for each, a rub on the head, and we all climb into the truck for the ride home. We greatly appreciate you walking with us today. Please, rest assured, you are always welcome to join us. You don’t need Google maps or a GPS. Simply drive until the pavement ends and the wonder begins. There you will find us waiting for you. Just bring your waterproof clothes and some waders. We don’t want you catching cold on a glorious day like today.


2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2020:

The older I get, Rajan, the more reflective I become. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 01, 2020:

These walks with your kids are always time for introspection as well as relearning forgotten things we as humans could put to use again in our daily life. Thank you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 19, 2020:

I do too, Lawrence. I see a lot of people out walking their dogs these days.

Blessings of good health to you!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on March 18, 2020:


Thank you for the walk today, I think these walks are going to become more and more important as the days go by.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 01, 2020:

It is my pleasure, Genna. If my writing brings marvel and beauty to people, I am a happy writer. Thank you so much.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2020:

I just love these walks, Bill. "Simply drive until the pavement ends and the wonder begins." Thank you for sharing the wonder with us...it is a refuge of marvel, beauty, and discovery. :-)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 29, 2020:

It can't get here soon enough, Mary! Here's hoping for warmer temperatures soon.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 29, 2020:

I really appreciate that, Sha! It's nice to know I can still leave a reader breathless at times. :)

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 28, 2020:

Love these walks as there truly are wonderful lessons from Toby and Maggie. I also love your description of nature ad now, I know Spring is coming your way.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 27, 2020:

Bill, this walk has left me breathless - in a good way. The emotion. The revelation. The introspection. The observations. It has taken my breath away and given me goosebumps.

I'm glad we've taken a different path. This one seems to offer more wonder at the end of the pavement.

Love the new pics of Maggie and Toby. My, but he's grown!

This walk really touched me, Bill. Thank you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2020:

You will always be welcome, Eddy! Maggie and Toby want me to tell you they enjoyed your company.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2020:

The weather had calmed down, Manatita, and I am grateful. The dogs aren't nearly as muddy now. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2020:

Thanks William! Glad you liked the scenery. I finally remembered to bring my camera with me. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2020:

I am very glad to hear that, Nithya! May all of your days be filled with enjoyment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2020:

I appreciate that very much, Denise! Thank you my friend, and blessings to you always.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 23, 2020:

Thank you so much for taking us along with you . What a great way to be back in your midst once again. There is no greater medicine for me than the countryside,fresh air and our four legged friends. Look forward to so many more days with you on your farm.

manatita44 from london on February 23, 2020:

Seems like the weather is finally kinder to you and both dogs are having fun.

More conducive for reflection, it seems.

I need a little more light ... a little more walks. You're on to a good thing Bro and the dogs help.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on February 23, 2020:

I enjoyed the new scenery as well, Bill. You're right. It doesn't really matter where it is. Thanks for allowing me to romp along!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 23, 2020:

Trusting has become difficult these days. Gone are the good times when we had a safe and wonderful neighborhood. But Maggie and Toby are determined to enjoy every moment come what may. I enjoyed the walk and I am thankful to appreciate and enjoy another day.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on February 22, 2020:

Not only you but everyone who walks with you this way can benefit from the life lessons your dogs give us. Thanks for the refreshing walk.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2020:

I am very happy to hear that, Dora! Thank you for those kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2020:

Thanks, Zulma,and you do the same. We are heading out for another walk in four hours. The sun is out. I just need it to warm up into the 40's so I don't have to bundle up quite so much.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 21, 2020:

I love going with you and the dogs on these walks. I always come back refreshed and with some positive thoughts on which to reflect. Thank you!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on February 21, 2020:

The mental image of you, watching as the inevitable comes rushing headlong towards you, knowing all you can do is brace for impact, has left me amused and pensive.

Full of fun? I'm sure you wouldn't have it any other way. Have a good weekend, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

Zulma, Toby just turned one and yes, he has knocked me down twice. He's just too full of fun. Now I brace myself when I see him coming. As long as he doesn't hit me between the legs I'm good. :)

Happy Thursday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

Thanks so much, Linda! We really enjoyed you joining us today.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

Hikers are a friendly lot for sure, Eric. We never know when we are going to need each other in an emergency on the trail, so we better be friendly. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

I know you were serious, Heidi. I figure I'll get to that book when I"m 75. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

Happy Exercise, Ruby! Have a nice cold lemonade when you finish. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

I agree with you, Flourish. Change is good and full of new experiences. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

I hope you are correct about spring, Devika! I would love to feel the warm sun on my face.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 20, 2020:

Thank you Peggy! No matter what happens during my day, I know I have an hour to look forward to with my "children."

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on February 20, 2020:

What a wonderful day out. Thank you so much, Bill. It's still too wet and windy for me to go beyond my backyard but this is good.

I can't believe how big Toby's gotten. 60lbs? That's a lot of dog to come hurtling towards you. Has he ever knocked you down? How old is he now?

Thanks, again, for the lovely walk, Bill.

Enjoy your day.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 19, 2020:

Toby is certainly bigger than I realized! It sounds like you've found a great area for your walks with the dogs. The photos are lovely.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 19, 2020:

I think your boy Toby must be about Gabe's age - however that works. Sorry but Maggie acts like a girl ;-)

I met two folks on the trail today. Grins as big as a waxing moon halfway there. Hikers are a friendly lot.

Only two long time "campers" left in the canyon. Here in CA the goodies have gotten to good they are back to city dwelling. Oh well.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 19, 2020:

I don't remember seeing a pic of Tobias lately. Wow, has he gotten big! And I'm thinking he's in the adolescent jerk stage of development. Been there, done that. Fun... but I'll take my senior citizens.

I was serious in my review of your memoir in that I'd love to see a Travels with Maggie memoir someday.

Thanks for taking us with you!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 19, 2020:

What does a mouse smell like? I enjoyed our trek through new surroundings, now I gotta go work out on my Tony Little exerciser...

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 19, 2020:

That seems like an adventurous, reflective walk all rolled into one. It’s good to break the routine and go to new places every now and again.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

Susan, thank you for the very kind words. I am just coming to realize that writing is a gift I have. I have a hard time writing those words because I am always aware of hubris. :) Thank you very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

Sissy, I appreciate you taking the time to walk with us.Thank you for the very kind words. It's always nice to meet a fellow Northwestern native.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 19, 2020:

Hi Bill an enjoyable day with two fun loving pets. You walked and felt the air and on a clear sky this tells me spring is nearly there. I felt the optimistic experience you had and it made my day.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2020:

You so perfectly captured the feeling of freedom and exuberance of Maggie and Toby as they ran, jumped, explored, and splashed about in the puddles. Oh, to feel that joy with no thoughts of what is typically portrayed on the nightly news. We should all be so lucky! They are indeed great teachers. I enjoyed this walk with you as the bounty of spring emerges. Thanks!

Susan Ream from Michigan on February 19, 2020:

Bill, it's been a while since I have dropped by for a read. Your writing is just incredible. You took me on your walk with you. I observed nature, felt your emotionss and watched the dogs with their own unique temperment. You have such a gift and you are a joy to all who know you! Blessings!!

Sissy Wells from California on February 19, 2020:


For me, this was less about the walk and more about the musing. It takes a special gift to see the beauty in the ordinary, to experience wonderment when one is feeling blasé and to express those thoughts when motivation is lacking. I grew up in the PNW so I get the dark and wet. It isn’t like a sudden thunderstorm that one emerges from after a brief interlude. It is constant for months on end. Thanks for sharing your canine “educational” journey. It is inspirational.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

I am for sure blessed, Pamela. It took me a long time to realize that fact. :) So nice of you to join us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

The dogs don't seem to mind, Liz. They have fun no matter where we walk. :) Thanks for joining us.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 19, 2020:

What could be more fun than walking with your 2 loving dogs under a sky of blue. The beginning of growth that signifies spring is another perk. Even a new route doesn't bother Maggie and Tobias. You are blessed my friend.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 19, 2020:

It's good to watch the changing seasons through the viewpoint of your walks. I am sorry to hear that the building works have caused you to change your route.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

I'm so happy you went for that walk, Louise, and I'm sorry for the loss of your dog. You are welcome to join us any old time you choose.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

Thank you Meg. Enjoy those walks my friend. Cherish every moment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

I allow the process to work at its own pace, Linda. Thank you! The world is a bit brighter these days.

Louise Elcross from Preston on February 19, 2020:

Aww that was a lovely enjoyable walk. I felt like I was actually there with you and taking it all in. I need to get out for more walks in nature which I do not do so often since losing my dog of 18 years. I was laid in bed when I read this but soon got myself layered up and went for a nice walk myself and it did me the world of good. Thanks for writing and sharing.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 19, 2020:

We have the joy of walking by the sea most days. Walking is a great pleasure and a chance to learn more about life, as you say. Such great walks you and the dogs have!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

John, Omo is welcome any old time, as are you. The more the merrier on these jaunts, my friend. Thanks for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2020:

Thank you for your kind words, Ann. I am inspired for sure on those walks; even in the rain, and that's saying a mouthful. :) Have a brilliantly successful afternoon, my friend.


Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on February 19, 2020:

Bill your mood has brightened. I don't know if I should thank Toby and Maggie, or the break from the rain, or the promise of spring, but I feel like my old Bill is coming back. I've missed you.

P.S. I love that photo of Maggie.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 19, 2020:

This was a delightful walk. I hope you don’t mind me bringing my dog Omo along? She needs a little more exercise as she has been putting On weight. It is storming outside as I read this, lightning flashing and the peels of thunder almost ear-splitting. As Ann said, your descriptions are wonderful.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 19, 2020:

What a wonderful walk today! This is full of optimism, joy and Spring emerging. I particular like your sentence, 'Stubborn raindrops cling to drab limbs, shimmering in the sunlight, quivering, as though afraid of the sudden invasion of brightness.' Your descriptions are sooooo good. I can feel the exuberance of Toby and Maggie.

I too love the emergence of Spring. I now have snowdrops, the daffodils are showing and lots of buds creep from the branches, so my time of year is nearly here. I can more easily brush off the grey of winter (though I do like the crisp, dry, sunny days when you can see breath on the air).

Thanks for the fresh air and the fresh outlook, bill! We're all learning from your delightful dogs (and you!).


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