Travels With Maggie: The Dog Days of Summer Awareness

Updated on August 16, 2019

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Bill Holland

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      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 days ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you always, Lawrence!

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        7 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Bill

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        7 days ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        8 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Bill

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you always, Nithya!

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        3 weeks ago from Dubai

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        4 weeks ago from United Kingdom

        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 profile image

        Genna East 

        4 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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?

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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!

        bill

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        4 weeks ago from United Kingdom

        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.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 

        4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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!

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        4 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        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!

      • B. Leekley profile image

        Brian Leekley 

        4 weeks ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

        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.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

        Blessings to you always

        bill

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        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.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        5 weeks ago from SW England

        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!

        Ann

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        5 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        "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!

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        5 weeks ago from USA

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

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        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 profile image

        RoadMonkey 

        5 weeks ago

        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 profile image

        DreamerMeg 

        5 weeks ago from Northern Ireland

        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.

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        5 weeks ago from Chicago Area

        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!

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        5 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

        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!

        Sean

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        5 weeks ago from Beautiful South

        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.

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 

        5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        5 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        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...

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 weeks ago from UK

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

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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. :)

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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! :)

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        5 weeks ago from Central Florida

        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.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 

        5 weeks ago from USA

        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!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        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!

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • The Stages Of ME profile image

        Kathy Henderson 

        5 weeks ago from Pa

        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.

      • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

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

      • The Stages Of ME profile image

        Kathy Henderson 

        5 weeks ago from Pa

        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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      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
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