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Travels With Maggie: The Dog Days of Summer Awareness

The dawn rising of the Sirius, the Dog Star, signaling the hot stretch, the home stretch, tongues lagging, sweat dripping, shade the quest, a cold slurp from the hose the reward, an August walk, just a man and his dog, heat shimmering on the blacktop, buttercups and clover fading, wilting, succumbing.

It’s a hot one today. I strongly suggest you bring a water bottle with you if you plan on joining us. On days like today, Maggie girl does not share her water. Mind you, our heat, around ninety, may not seem hot to you, but this is our walk, in our neighborhood, so it’s the only heat worth talking about in this missive.

Won’t you join us?

Maggie Girl before the walk

Maggie Girl before the walk

Feed Us in the Shade, Please

Chickens are like that . . . they do not like hot weather. They will eat if I toss their food in the shade; they will go on a hunger strike if I toss it in the sunshine. Can’t say I blame them any. We are all very aware of the shade location on this day, we make short work of the feeding process, dive right into the watering, the blessed, cool, watering, the filling of bowls, Maggie girl right there drinking out of the hose, her muzzle dripping, absolutely joyous in the activity. Even the horses saunter over at the sound of flowing water, the pinto who bit me two weeks ago now my best friend as I hose him down, fickle in his friendship, not unlike some humans I’ve known over the years.

I look at Maggie and ask her if she’s ready for our walk. I would not describe her reaction as excited, but she likes the daily ritual, my Maggie girl, so she wags her tail and sets out down the path as the sun relentlessly establishes authority over the pastoral scene.

The Sights and Sounds

It is quiet on this day. Birds are still. Messages are neither sent nor received. There is no rustling in the wooded lots, no dogs barking in the distance, no hammering or sawing or bantering of one nature or another, just the sounds of my shoes scraping pavement and Maggie panting as she shadows my steps. We stay to the south side of the road as much as possible, happy in the occasional blanketing of shade, happy for the occasional murmur of a breeze.

At just the right angle, at just the right moment, if you look carefully you can see tiny particles of matter floating in the air, suspended for a time, horizontal for a time, eventually succumbing to the laws of physics and alighting on the ground. It’s amazing, really, surrounded by life we are unaware of, above us, around us, below us, oblivious most of the time to the universal truth: we are just a part of the answer, one cog in a very large piece of machinery, integral, disruptive, and at times beneficial, but one cog nonetheless. I have come and I will go, a blip on the screen of time, nothing more, nothing less, and I think it’s important to remember that. I can be helpful to Life, or I can be destructive, my choice, but ultimately I will simply be a brief memory.

Maggie seems to understand that truth. I have never seen her destroy. I have never seen her attack. She lives in harmony with her surroundings, adjusting when necessary, riding the wave and never struggling against it, and I believe, as much as it is possible, my dog is happy.

A man and his dog, just walking down a country road, and there is no doubt who the teacher is among them.


A Flurry of Excitement

Shot out of a cannon, she is, just like that, one moment walking by my side, another moment thirty feet ahead, then fifty, seventy-five, growling and barking, eyes never leaving the woods, something is in there for sure, some perceived danger, and I have no clue. Not a sound was heard by my ears; not a movement noticed by my eyes; but Maggie is on it, big time, perhaps by smell, perhaps sensing an alteration in the molecular structure of that immediate environment, I do not know, but I believe in my dog. If she says there is something warranting concern then she has my attention.

This goes on for a good five minutes and then it ends as quickly as it began, silence once again resting upon us. I take a detour along a path which leads into the woods, curiosity winning out over common sense, and sure enough, twenty feet into the woods, fresh scat is found. To my untrained eye it appears to be canine in nature, meaning coyote. Maggie sniffs it, growls low, guttural, raises her head, sniffs, and that is that, the danger is gone, and all is well.

The woods are alive, big and small, all integral cogs in a very large piece of machinery. I am now aware of that; in earlier years I believed I was the hub around which all things revolved. Silly notion! As I walk I am aware that I am watched, by the birds, the hawks, the coyotes and deer and weasels, I am watched by the beetles and ants and field mice, all my traveling companions, all watching me watch them, in harmony if we choose, and on that day, in my right frame of mind, we so choose. Maggie and I turn for home.


Awareness Is the Key

Or so it seems to me! I can learn from Maggie if I am willing. I can learn to be more aware of life around me, not only in the woods, not only during my walks, but each and every day, be more aware, and to use that awareness to become a contributing member of this world.

I’m fascinated by the Butterfly Effect Theory, that every action, no matter its size, has an effect. Every single thing I do . . . every single thing I say . . . has a long-ranging effect on life around me, and I am responsible for that effect . . . for those consequences. Lao Tzu perhaps said it best:

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”

Something to think about as I move through this life . . . I am not alone. I am not isolated. I am part of a bigger picture of existence. Amazingly my dog seems to grasp this fact better than I, leaving me to wonder which of us is the higher life form. My thought processes are clouded and obscured by millions of memories, experiences, classes, words, actions, and reactions, and the same is true for all of us. Perhaps, in order to see the truth of life, we need to discard some of it, or at least I do, seek a measure of simplicity, and simply be. Perhaps we need a deep-cleaning of sorts, a scouring, a scrubbing.

I am willing, and I suspect that is the first step.

Maggie hops in the truck and happily accepts the treat I offer. She seems satisfied with the lessons of the day. I have no doubt she will go back home and teach those lessons to her brother Tobias, and I find comfort in that.

Thank you for joining us today. Hopefully you can make it next time. Just remember to bring a treat for my girl. She does love her creature comforts.

© 2019 Bill Holland


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 15, 2020:

Isn't that the truth, Peggy? I hope I leave behind good memories. It would be a shame to live this long and not do so.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 14, 2020:

Hi Bill,

We are all tiny specks of dust in this universe of ours. The fact of our little life affecting others is astounding when you think about it. What comes through to me clearly after reading this is that we should always keep that in mind as we go through each day. Your Maggie and many like her do seem to embody what is most important. They are all about love and fidelity. When they pass from our lives, they will always bring good memories. Not all people attain that!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2019:

Thank you always, Lawrence!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 13, 2019:


I agree with you on that one. The video I watched showed how the Allies used it in their strategy during WW2

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 13, 2019:

It's a fascinating theory, Lawrence, although it may not be accurate in calling it a theory...more like reality me thinks.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 12, 2019:


Great walk with you today.

I watched a YouTube video the other day on the Butterfly effect and how something so small can have huge consequences.

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

Thank you always, Nithya!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 27, 2019:

We are all part of a bigger picture of existence, so true. Maggie is clever and she knows this more than we do, I guess. Enjoyed the walk.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 20, 2019:

I know, Zulma, right? That poor dog just can't figure out what is wrong with Bev and I? lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 20, 2019:

Wouldn't that be fantastic, Genna, to intuit like a dog for just a few moments? It would probably be sensory overload for us humans, but what a wild trip that would be.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on August 20, 2019:

Poor Toby. It must be really confusing for him. 'Human, why do you have chickens if you don't want me to play with them? Sometimes I just don't get you.' lol

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 19, 2019:

Oh my, ninety isn't hot -- it's Hades. At least it is here, in my neck of the woods, in the NE, with our high humidity, like the swamps of the Okefenokee -- hot, buggy and muggy. I'm with the chickens. :-)

I loved this walk, Bill, and your beautiful perceptions of the surrounding world. And I wish for a few nanoseconds I could perceive what Maggie intuits, in her special "dog think" with those acute senses of hers. Amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

Thank you Zulma! Strange weather for sure, and its effect on the gardens is obvious here. We are having one of the best years ever for fruit here...last year was one of the worst. Nothing is predictable anymore around here, and that must drive farmers crazy.

As for Toby, he just hasn't figured out that chickens are not toys to play with. His training continues.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

Chris, i think that dog of yours is a smart one. I would not want to wake up to a bull staring at me. LOL Who needs coffee when you wake up like that?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

Thank you William! Thankfully coyotes are more afraid of us. I would hate it if that dynamic changed.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

Meteorites, you say, Brian? That's as good an explanation as I've heard. I kind of like that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

I have some bad experiences with nuns, Mary,but that was profound. Thank you for sharing those words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2019:

Thank you Ann! I don't know about fiery Friday,but it was satisfying and restful, so that counts for something, right? As for cleansing, I've done a lot but there is still much to do.

Sending a hug of friendship across The Pond on this Monday!


Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on August 19, 2019:

Ninety degrees is plenty hot for me, thank you.

It's been pretty cool here the last few days. Rain, showers and sun alternating throughout the day. The geese are flying again which means summer is coming to an end...

My daughter just handed me a strawberry she just picked from her garden. Mmmm....so sweet. They late this year. They didn't start flowering till July. My husband says even the farmers had trouble. He thinks the changing weather patterns have the plants confused.

I do enjoy your walks with Maggies. Makes me wish I had a dog to walk with. I don't think the cats would appreciate a yapping pup disrupting their routine no matter how amusing I would find that.

When will Toby be joining you and Mags on your walks? I'd love to read about his take on things.

Have a lovely day, Bill, and stay cool.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on August 18, 2019:

Good dog, Maggie. I was camping last weekend with my dog, Darby, in the National Grasslands of Texas. I crawled out of bed to find a herd of cows standing a few feet from our campsite. They were curious. Then Darby bolted. He didn't growl or bark, he just got the heck out of there. I turned back to the cows to find a bull staring at me. Darby wanted no part of that. I enjoyed the walk very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2019:

Pretty damned boring, Eric! And I love it! As for fixing something mechanical, I leave that to Bev. She's the mechanic in this family, and I'm find with that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2019:

Long live Maggie for sure, Dora, and I thank you for your kindness. I am a lucky man to have friends like you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2019:

Wouldn't that be something, John, to be that aware? Amazing!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2019:

No,Monkey, the chickens are not fond of water at all. If it's raining you can find them all huddled underneath the coops. They are fair weather birds for sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 18, 2019:

Aww thank you Meg....113 degrees would not call for a siesta...it would call for this man's funeral. :) I don't do heat!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 18, 2019:

Smart dog, Maggie is. She takes good care of you. Occasionally, I can hear coyotes howl up in the mountains, but I wouldn't want to mess with them. I finished my water bottle so I guess it's on to the day ahead of me. Hope yours is good!

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on August 17, 2019:

About particles in the air, I read one time that a significant portion of dust is from meteorites.

Back in Michigan, I was a dog walker, and I'm missing that—Beau yanking me to the gutter so he could lick roadkill or rip into a discarded fast food container, or Beau sitting down on the sidewalk because I wanted to go this way and he wanted to go that way.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 16, 2019:

Hmm, I read this twice.

And you and Maggie do not smoke or drink, you do not overeat and you exercise/walk regularly, you do chores, you hang out together, you take care and safe guard each other. You basically love each other. You have a lady of the house. You play together. Nature is one of your best friends. You lay around under trees and you notice but do not cuss the heat (much).

How boring is all that!!!

Oops I think all that is all about me. Sorry about that.I am so self centered. I am going to cook and try to fix something mechanical -- Now there is some excitement. I wonder what the rich folks are doing today.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

Thanks Linda...friendlier as long as I keep my distance....LOL

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

Some friends of Bev raises her breed, Flourish, and you are correct, she is a loyal girl.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

I do love the early mornings, Heidi...a coyote in the burbs of Chicago? That's rarely seen, I would guess...pretty common here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

I love that about respect, Sean! Thank you for sharing it with us all.

Blessings to you always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

Thank you MizB! Coyotes are getting braver and braver, I'm afraid, but then they really have no choice. We keep moving onto their land. :) Happy Friday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

Beautifully stated, Linda! I love the way you described that last paragraph....thank you! 20 miles? One would have to be mighty hungry to walk 20 miles for a bite.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

Well Ruby,Maggie is delighted with that hambone. She says to say thank you, and so I do...thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 16, 2019:

I appreciate the kind words, Liz. Thank you very much.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 16, 2019:

There is so much depth in this article that I need to reread it. There was a time when I, too, was certain that I was at the centre of the universe. More and more, life teaches me that I am not in control, that the best is to be, to flow with life. A wise nun once told me to look at the sunflowers on the side of the hills. They just bloom and be.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 16, 2019:

Well, bill, you say you're not a poet but that first paragraph certainly sounds poetic to me - so don't fob me off with the 'I can't write poetry' excuse, those words are perfect free verse!

I agree wholeheartedly that being aware of everything around us is so important, both for ourselves and for others or for nature.

Maggie, as all dogs, has a heightened awareness. I believe that we all have that facility but that if we don't use it, we lose it. Looking high and low as well as side to side, behind and in front, is essential for full awareness. I'm getting better at that but nowhere near as good as I should be. I watch my 10 month grandson and see his delight in all things around him, in all things new to him. He teaches me such a lot, as do all my grandchildren.

As for the cleansing, the simplicity, today I have gone through loads of paperwork and over half of it is now in the bin - so therapeutic! Simplifying our lives is the same I think; I have some 'baggage' and 'junk' that I should get rid of or ignore, so I'm going to make a bigger effort to do so. Thanks for reminding me!

Have a fiery Friday, bill, full of fun!


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 15, 2019:

"She lives in harmony with her surroundings, adjusting when necessary, riding the wave and never struggling against it, and I believe, as much as it is possible, my dog is happy." Not only is Maggie teaching us valuable life lessons, she is providing the inspiration for some of your most beautiful expressions. Long live Maggie!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2019:

It sounds like you have a lovely route for your walks with Maggie. I'm glad the horse was friendlier this time.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 15, 2019:

You've got a good friend there, Bill. How did Maggie come into your life?

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 15, 2019:

There is nothing better than a walk in the fresh air and countryside with your faithful best friend to let you contemplate and see the big picture. It seems to take being in nature itself to make things really clear. When we are tucked away in our homes or in the city there are so many distractions and sometimes nature is forgotten for a time.

It would be as wonderful if our senses were as attuned and sensitive as our four footed companions. Nice read, Bill.

RoadMonkey on August 15, 2019:

Love John Denver's song, Country Roads. I think I would be like the chickens, eating in the shade in that temperature or not eating if it were in the sun! Mind you that wouldn't do me any harm. Love the description of the animals all enjoying the hose, though maybe not the hens?

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 15, 2019:

Thank goodness we don't normally reach 90 degrees in this part of the world. That's 32 Celsius. A warm summer's day here is 22 or 23 degrees celsius and a real scorcher is 27. The only time I have experienced a summer hotter than that was in Greece one year, when it reached 45 or 46 degrees celsius - 113 degrees Fahrenheit at noon and everyone took siestas. Maggie is a faithful companion going with you in that, as well as a great teacher. You must have learned a lot from her because you are now a great observer.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on August 15, 2019:

If only we could be in the moment like Maggie!

It's hot and oppressive here, too. Typical Chicago August, but with an occasional cool morning reminder that fall is on the way.

Also, last week, Bailey and I were doing our morning walk and a coyote was walking down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. A rare sighting in our 'burb, but one that reminds us we're living where it used to be open land. That's a whole other story line.

The pic of Maggie and Tobias is just adorable!

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on August 15, 2019:

Wise words, beautifully written, my brother, Bill! As I say to my boys -and even more, I try to teach them by my way of living- Respect is the basis for the awareness. First, you learn to respect everything, and then you become aware!

"I can sense your presence in my Heart although You belong to all the world." -Rumi

Thank you for being an insisting, colorful and helpful blip on the screen!


Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 15, 2019:

Bill, I look forward to your walks with Maggie. Thanks for taking us along. A coyote that close? Be careful. Those around here have been known to come off the trails and go into town. Small pets have been known to disappear when they're around. I'm glad your chickens can picnic in the shade. My chickens live in our old screen house, and I honestly don't see how they can stand the heat even with a big fan running. I wish we could free range them on our half acre, but then the sick neighbor next door would die of apoplexy. It is in the 90s here, but that's at least not the 100s. Have a good rest of the week, my friend.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 15, 2019:

Bill, yesterday I took my older daughter and our new Pastor's family (wife and two adorable little girls) to the zoo. At the polar bear exhibit, I learned (new to me) that polar bears can smell their prey 20 miles away! Perhaps Maggie is part polar bear?

She might seem calm to you, but she loves you with the most perfect of love and is your protector. The moment you step outside she's happy (to be with you) but on high alert. Isn't that just beautiful, to be so beloved like that?

I too believe in that butterfly effect. What we do matters. What we say matters. What we write matters. . . and it lives on long after we are nothing more than tiny particles of matter floating in the air.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 15, 2019:

I have been pulling flowers ( CELOME ) this morning and boy did I get hot, I took a nice shower and sat down to see who had written on HUBPAGES, only two, and I was happy to see you and Maggie had taken another walk. I brought her a nice hambone to chew on. I enjoyed the scenery and I listened to the video. I miss John Denver. He was a good singer, a downhome kind of guy. Thanks for taking me along...

Liz Westwood from UK on August 15, 2019:

Thanks for another gtreat dog walking account. Written with such clarity that you take the readers with you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2019:

Oh I believe you, Sha,no doubt at all. Up in Alaska there was a thing called "Dancing Dogs," although I have no idea why the locals called it that...it was frozen ice crystals floating in the air....in other words, the moisture in the air froze.....it was beautiful but it also was very dangerous...no deep breaths were taken. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2019:

I couldn't do it,Marlene! When I was younger I thought AC was for wimps. Now I absolutely love it in my truck...Maggie too! :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2019:

You are correct, Pamela, it is a small thing to do, but it has such a great effect....little acorns grow to be . ..

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 15, 2019:

Bill, it has been so friggin' hot here lately. I find myself often thinking, "Bill would hate this!". The heat has been oppressive. Then we get the rain which leaves a sticky dampness in the air. I live in Florida. It is what it is.

Your observation of matter seemingly suspended in the air reminded me of my childhood. When I was about seven or eight I'd lie in bed at night very quietly. I swore I saw air. In the darkness there were little specks in green, red, purple, blue, and white dancing everywhere I looked. People didn't believe I could actually see air, but I know I did. It's been a long time since I've seen air. Perhaps I should practice stillness when I go to bed and let it once again dance for me.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 15, 2019:

We are going through a heat spell here in sunny California. It's so hot my husband and I don't go anywhere unless it is absolutely necessary, especially since the air conditioner in our car is broken. But, I truly enjoyed walking and talking with you on this hot, summer day (from the comfort of an air conditioned house). Yes, this was fun, Bill. Let's do it again!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2019:

I think 90 degrees is hot anywhere, and I try to only go out in the early morning when it is more comfortable, plus I am a morning person.

Your pondering on your walk is really focused on how we live our lives down to the smallest action, which all cause an effect. Over the years in the grocery store or as an RN at work I always make a point of looking people in the eye and smiling. The reaction I get back is positive 99% of the time. This is such a small thing to do, but is there a better place to start? Good article today Bill. It made me think!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2019:

I won't tell if you don't, Kathy. lol

Kathy Henderson from Pa on August 15, 2019:

Oops, "I felt as though I was walking beside you and your sweet Maggie." I don't want to upset the grammar police quite this early in the day, although we know I have many citations for offenses in the grammatical law.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2019:

Kathy, Maggie and I appreciate you taking the time to walk with us. Thanks so much! Maggie says thank you for the hug.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on August 15, 2019:

I enjoyed this beautiful walk thoroughly. I felt as though I were walking beside you and your sweet Maggie. Maggie, your protector, and willing confidant. I find myself wishing we could be more like our sweet furry friends, filled with curiosity, unconditional love, and an extreme desire to servitude. Have a wonderful day and give Maggie a hug from me!

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