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Travels With Maggie: The Circle of Life

Another Day, Another Walk, This Is What We Do

It’s Monday so we need to go on our walk.

It’s Tuesday so we need to go on our walk.

It’s Wednesday so we need . . .

This is what Maggie and I do. We go for daily walks, and you are invited to join us if you like. We even decided to bring Maggie’s brother, Tobias, along with us for entertainment.

Maggie Girl

Maggie Girl

Cue the Lion King Song

I was watching a documentary the other day, “The Biggest Little Farm,” about a couple who chased their dream of owning a self-sustaining, completely natural farm in California. Their goal was to create a bio-diverse ecological system, believing that an ecosystem will thrive if allowed to do what it does naturally. It was an eye-opening, uplifting movie and I found myself smiling and crying while watching it, so powerful was the message that we are all connected, and every step we take, every action we undertake, affects the world around us.

As Maggie and I take our walk, I am convinced that my beautiful dog understands that truth instinctively. Maggie is aware of everything occurring around her. She watches seeds floating in the wind. She smells gophers and field mice, sniffing constantly until she finds their burrows. A butterfly, a robin, a hawk up above . . . a beetle, a garter snake, a rabbit down below . . . she hears neighbors a half mile away, knows when a coyote is nearby, and somehow penetrates the darkness of the forest with X-Ray vision. I think I’m attuned to nature until I’m with my girl, and then she puts me to shame.

There is so much we humans miss and yes, it is true, we don’t have the finely-tuned senses of animals, but I suspect we also miss a great deal because we are too busy being busy. Our minds are flooded with non-essentials. We are rooted in the past, or rooted in the future, and the now speeds by us practically unnoticed.

But not so, Maggie! My girl is all about the now.

Ascending the Ladder

Seeds and insects and rodents, followed by the predators, the weasels, the fox, the coyotes, and the cougars, all interacting, dust to dust, and microbes are formed, and from those microbes comes healthy soil, and from that healthy soil comes more life, more diverse life, and ain’t that cool?

Seeds and insects and rodents, followed by the predators, the hawks, the crows, the eagles, and the owls, all interacting, dust to dust, and microbes are formed, and from those microbes comes healthy soil, and from that healthy soil comes more life, more diverse life, and ain’t that cool?

And the hummingbirds hum, the dragonflies hover and skim, the ladybugs, God bless the ladybugs, devour the aphids, and each one is related, each one has importance, each one completes a picture so complicated we mere humans lack the depth to understand.

But Maggie understands it all, observes it all, and accepts it all, and damn if I don’t wish I knew more people like Maggie.



Toby, on the Other Hand

Toby is into everything with reckless abandon. Anything that moves is a potential plaything for Toby, as though the world was his private playground and all of God’s creatures his toys. A fly, a seed pod, a leaf, a bird, a rabbit, all are objects of intense scrutiny and all can, and will, be pounced on with a gleeful spirit.

Maggie’s brother doesn’t have a mean or aggressive bone in his body, but fifty-three pounds of pouncing can do some damage to some of the farm’s creatures, so I keep a close eye on the youngest sibling. I praise him when he listens; I chastise him when he strays from instructions; slowly but surely he learns what his place is in this strange environment, just as we all learn our proper place and roles in life.

Which Triggers a Memory

Way back, the Dark Ages, 1950’s, as a child I would go out to the driveway and step on ants. I have no clue why I did that; it was just something to do; and besides, my little brain reasoned, there were so many of them, what difference would it make.

It turns out ants are quite valuable. They are decomposers in our environment. They are soil aerators. They are food in the food chain. There are, literally, one-quad-zillion of them on our planet, and they are a key element in the balance of nature and the environment.

I’m wiser now. I am fully aware of the damage man can do to the natural order of things. I’ve seen the honey bees disappear. I have witnessed the severe drop in numbers of the orca. I shudder to think of how many species have become extinct during my lifetime, and how many more will disappear in the years to come.

Again, Maggie seems to understand this. Toby, like that little child sixty years ago, still has some learning to do.

But I’ll help him, as will Maggie, as will Bev, because I’m tired of key elements of this planet vanishing.

Maggie growls at the sound of a forklift starting up at one of the building sites.

I’m in total agreement with my girl.

The farm

The farm

On the Farm

We take our walks on the farm owned by Bev’s son and his wife, ten acres, about seventy goats, a llama, two dogs, four horses, chickens, and dozens of peacocks. It’s not a large farm by any means, but the “kids” are determined to make it the most ecologically-efficient and bountiful small farm in the area. They are busy planting cover crops to strengthen the soil . . . they understand the most important factor in a healthy farm is healthy soil. It all begins with the soil. The soil giveth and the soil taketh away, and the kids get it, and that is gratifying to see.

And it’s because of young couples like them, and it’s because of animals like Maggie and Tobias, that I still have hope for our planet. There are some very caring people on this small planet, and I suspect they outnumber the harmful ones. I suspect . . . nay, I know . . . that the mega-corporations which rape and pillage the land are outnumbered by small businesses whose owners actually give a damn. I am convinced that good outnumbers bad.

And it is my hope that the Good stands up and leads by example. I pray that the Good is willing to do that which is hard in order to ensure that this planet will be healthy for many generations to come.

Food for thought! More later, at another time, but until then Maggie, Toby, and I have mysteries to explore and contemplate. We love that you joined us on this walk, and we will always welcome you on future walks.

We will leave you with the words of our good buddy Henry David Thoreau, a man who walked his talk:

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”

Go take a walk, friends, and I guarantee you will find the truth, as I have during my travels with Maggie. What more could please the soul than to walk free and know no superior, no worry, and no strife?

© 2019 Bill Holland


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 31, 2020:

Peggy, a pitchfork in the ankle would be a lesson remembered for a lifetime. My goodness that must have hurt! I knelt on a nail once, on the playground in grade school, and I can still remember that nail sticking out of my knee. Damn, I'm cringing just thinking of it. lol

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 30, 2020:

I laughed when you referred to the 1950s as "the dark ages." Unlike you, I thought I could help the ants build their nests. My parents were busy building a breezeway between our garage and house and did not have their eyes on me for that second in time. They thought that I was safe playing out in the yard with my brothers.

I grabbed a pitchfork out of the garage and started making holes for the ants to help them along. They could then put their little sand bits around the top of the nest was my reasoning at the time. When one of the points entered my ankle (I still have that scar), my largess ceased with blood, crying, and a rapid trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot. Ha! The good old dark ages and being young.

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

A happy moment indeed, Devika! Thank you for your thoughts.

Devika Primic on December 29, 2019:

Our pets are curious as we are when walking in the wild. It is interesting to observe Toby while walking a happy moment for you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 27, 2019:

It is always our pleasure, Genna! Thank you so much for joining us. You are a welcome addition to any walk.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 26, 2019:

"...we are all connected, and every step we take, every action we undertake, affects the world around us." Absolutely. Everything exists in relationship. What fun it was to walk with you, Maggie and her sibling. Toby is a playful rascal and apprentice...how lucky for him to have you and Maggie by his side on his journey of learning. Thanks again for taking us along.

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

That makes me smile, Lawrence. I would have liked your dad and I definitely like you. Thank you!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 20, 2019:


I think the way my Dad was rubbed off on me growing up, I'm one who doesn't even like killing cockroaches (much to both my wife and daughter's annoyance) and as for bees, we plant as many flowers and plants as we can, but my fruit trees are always full of fruit (mr bee pollinates them)

Yesterday I was watching a blackbird have a feast in my box with the mint in and less than a metre away the cat was sleeping in a chair, she's a good hunter but didn't know about the bird and I wasn't telling her!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2019:

It is a continua task, Shannon, and one that only a younger man/woman can take on. You better love farming a whole lot before committing to it.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 04, 2019:

I just came from this week's walk and realized I missed the last one. I had to come see what I missed, though I confess that it is a little hard to concentrate while the cats are running around like two bats straight out of hell. Like that old commercial, I wonder, "what got into those cats!?" At least the dogs are quietly sleeping at the moment.

Now I've got to say that it's pretty impressive when someone takes on the task of building a farm, especially an urban farm. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've wished I could live on a ranch somewhere. I love the beautiful, wide-open spaces, and, of course, the views that come with places like that. But then I must come back to reality and know that I do not have the knowledge to sustain a property like that long-term. So kudos to those who can and to those who can have a farm smack in the middle of it all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2019:

Sis, you are a sweetheart. Thank you! I lucked out getting you as a sister.

love always

Suzie from Carson City on October 03, 2019:

How do we know what a wonderful Story Teller you are, Bro? Because when we're done reading what you've written for us, we feel SO GOOD ALL OVER...INSIDE AND OUT!! Thanks buddy! Peace, Sis

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 03, 2019:

Sound advice, Zulma! :)

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on October 03, 2019:

Remember, take small bites. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 02, 2019:

Here we are indeed, Zulma. No problem with the plate. I'll just buy a larger one. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 02, 2019:

You are too kind, Sean, but thank you! It feels wonderful to see the world with all of my senses. I am alive!!!!!

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on October 02, 2019:

Funny, I don't recall you mentioning Maggie could talk and, yet, here we are. lol

I know you've got loads on your plate at the moment, Bill, so there's no rush. You'll get to it when you get to it.

Have a lovely day.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on September 28, 2019:

This one was amazing, my brother, Bill! Deep in so many ways! Food for thought. I am going to print it and share it with my students. Thank you for your Love to this world. This Love makes us brothers and sisters with the littlest bacterium!

Feed the mind with Light!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2019:

Thank you, William! Maggie and Toby say hello!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2019:

Nell, you and Bev would get along quite well. And I mean that as a compliment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2019:

I love that story, Monkey! Thank you for sharing it. They really are fascinating creatures.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2019:

Very true, Mary! Every positive action helps the environment.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on September 28, 2019:

Maggie certainly is a special dog, Bill. Toby - well, I think everyone should have a Toby. Like you said, our animals are much more attuned to things. Thank you for the lesson.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 27, 2019:

Yes, me too! Thanks, bill, you too.


Nell Rose from England on September 27, 2019:

Wonderful Bill. I always look up, down and around whenever I go out in nature. I drive my family nuts because I stop, kneel down and peer into the flowers etc. LOL! I love nature, I even talk to trees! true. I love your walks with Maggie.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 27, 2019:

I'm with you all the way, Ann! We have one segment on the local news called "Eric's Heroes," it comes on once a week, and it's about average people who quietly do good for the community...it's uplifting and it is my favorite news segment. I wish more people would demand more feel good segments, you know?

Have a brilliantly delicious weekend, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 27, 2019:

Zulma, there you go again, asking for more and more and more. Who says Toby talks??? Did I ever make mention of that pup talking? LOL I'll see what I can do, my friend. Have a great weekend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 27, 2019:

Thank you MizB! No to fire ants, no thank you ever! As for mice, cute only goes so far in the jungle we call our home. Our cat Josie doesn't do cute. lol

RoadMonkey on September 26, 2019:

Great walks. I love ants, always have. I used to lie on the ground and watch them, as a child. I know they can be more destructive elsewhere. On holiday in Greece one time, we came back to our hotel room to find a living trail of ants following the original wandering trail of a lone ant from the hotel window over the wall to a shelf where I had left a fig sitting out. I removed the fig and washed it and the line of ants gradually disappeared. I used my survival level Greek to buy a box for any fruit, so they gave me an opportunity to learn a bit more.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2019:

Great that you have Maggie to walk with and bring you to be one with nature. Am so happy to hear about the young couple doing their best to do more sustainable farming. Each one of us can do something.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 26, 2019:

Wonderful! That farm looks lovely and very homely.

I'm also convinced that good outnumbers bad. Trouble is, that's not news, we never have a feast of good stuff with our daily tv update of the world and that depresses me. How can we inspire good practice if we rarely hear about it? It's only dished up as an occasional small sweet dessert to soften the bad stuff.

Thanks for the substantial dose of good stuff, bill!.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

Thanks for joining us, Linda! You are a scientist....you would fit in quite well on these walks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

Eric, you and your family get it for sure....and yes, today, I choose to be a dog. Thanks buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

Orchestrated it is, Heidi, and our job is to make sure all of the instruments are allowed to play freely. :) Thank you for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

Thank you Liz! Overactive imagination....since I was a little kid. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

I know, right, Flourish? 350 million people doing just a little bit better....it would make a difference for sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2019:

God bless you, Pamela, and may we both see the revitalization of the bees and the orca.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 26, 2019:

It sounds like Toby is a typical boy. He's curious about everything in his world just like Maggie, but he lacks her finesse. Keep training him and I'm sure he'll settle down. Not too much, I hope. There's a lot to be said about grabbing life by the...uh...scruff of the neck and never letting go. (I was going to say something else but decided to keep it family-friendly. lol)

I'm fascinated by how everything on this planet is interconnected and how that interconnectivity keeps our world ticking along. Nature clearly knows what she's doing. Now if man would just get out of the way and let her get on with it, we'd be so much better off.

Now that Toby is joining you on your walks, I'd love to hear what he has to say.

Have a great day, Bill.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 25, 2019:

Bless that little Tobias, he sounds just like my Tas Too kitty. But then my little Tas has a purpose: to rid my house of mice. I know they are cute little critters, but when they tear into a $12 bag of gluten-free flour and ruin it, they aren't welcome here. Now if he could just figure out how to rid us of mosquitoes.

I try to avoid stepping on ants because mostly what we have here are fire ants. They aren't welcome either.

I love your walks in nature and hope to start taking our own soon. The temperatures have been in the 80s recently, thanks to the remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms that have reached us. We love to walk at the Big Dam Bridge that is just below our house on the Arkansas River. The flood last spring closed the walking trails down for repairs, but some are open again.

Enjoy your walks and thanks for taking us along.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 25, 2019:

I enjoy reading about the thoughts triggered by your walks with Maggie. A walk with a dog can produce some unexpected benefits! It sounds like Tobias is going to become another great companion.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 25, 2019:

So last night as we played roller ball outside my son broke off and put his ear pressed against the ground. And said "wait for it"! And a huge truck went by a street away. Now what fool taught him to be that in tune? We smell birds in flight.

Being a dog is a choice. And we choose it.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 25, 2019:

We've got our daily walk drill, too. When I was laid up with an injury earlier this year, I realized how out of sync I am without it.

And I walk each of our fur kids separately, too. They each have their own cadence. Bailey's a solid sprint, Daisy is a lazy daisy.

Ants. Worms. Bacteria. It's all so amazingly orchestrated, eh?

Always love joining you on the walk. :)

Liz Westwood from UK on September 25, 2019:

I am amazed at how you can take a dog walk and from it draw out such deep thoughts and musings about how the circle of life works and our responsibility to uphold it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 25, 2019:

If we could all strive to do just a little better when it comes to the environment change would be possible.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 25, 2019:

I truly like the idea of things being natural on any farm. I liked the short video of the movie. I have long been wordered about the demise of bees and the orca. We need to take care of our earth as there is no where else to go! LOL

Continue you walks with Maggie, and Toby will learn. That little fellow just needs a bit more training than Maggie required. God bless you Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2019:

I'm feeling good, Linda, and each day is better. Thanks for joining us. Toby sends his reckless love. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2019:

Sha, I suspect it is real, and I suspect we may be too late to repair it all. I hope I'm wrong...I hope the scientists are wrong...but around here, in our region, there is no denying that things have changed drastically.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2019:

Ruby, you and I share those concerns. You and I won't see the ultimate price paid for the money grab, but someone will have to pay for it I'm afraid.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 25, 2019:

Bill, it appears that you have found what's really important in this life. I can see your shoulders sagging a little less under the burden. Blessings to you and Bev and Maggie and that little rascal Toby.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 25, 2019:

Bill, I pray the upcoming generations see what their predecessors have done to the environment and do their best to correct what Man has put asunder.

Although there seems to be much political debate with regard to global warming, the scientists take it seriously. They're now looking to our outer atmosphere, looking for planets that have similar conditions as Earth (before it became so damaged). It seems there's a desperate reach to begin life anew elsewhere. Do they feel repairing Earth is futile? Makes you think, doesn't it?

I enjoyed the walk with the three of you, Bill. Toby wore me out watching him bound from this to that. Oh, what fun he had!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 25, 2019:

Money is the most important thing in the world to some corporations, like you, I worry how long the world can sustain with the raping of the land. I especially wonder about the warming of the climate. Thank you for another walk-along with Maggie and Tobias..

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2019:

Thank you John! The three of us thoroughly enjoyed your company on this walk.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 25, 2019:

I thoroughly enjoyed this walk with you, maggie and Tobias. It saddens me to think about all the species that have become extinct in my lifetime, and that's only the ones I know about. I too am confident there are more people doing the right thing for the planet than the wrong. Good on Bev's son and his wife for being part of the change for the better.

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