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.
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.
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