Travels With Maggie: Unrestrained and Free
Where the Wonders Begin
The driveway isn’t long, maybe forty feet at most. It is made of poured concrete and there is absolutely nothing distinctive or special about it.
But step off that driveway and you step into the World of Wonder, and that’s what we are doing today.
Won’t you join us?
The Oddness Which Is Maggie
It’s a beautiful day we have here in Olympia, Washington, right around eighty, a slight breeze, fluffy white overhead, dinosaurs and horses and human shapes drifting by from 30,000 feet, available for all to see provided you have an imagination.
Petunias are getting leggy on this August afternoon. Cornstalks stand tall in some yards, potatoes are flowering, wisteria climbs the trunks of massive firs, little children run through sprinklers, shrieking, and walkers fight off advancing age in this city landscape I’ve called home now for thirty years.
Maggie is tugging at the leash. Toby is on his best behavior.
Maggie is a weird one. I’ve said it previously, several times, and I’ll repeat: I love my girl, but she’s unbalanced on the best of days. Example?
Put her on a leash and she’s aggressive towards other dogs and anyone riding by on a skateboard or bicycle. Take her off leash and she is completely docile, the sweetest dog you could ever hope to be around, eager to play with strange dogs and not caring a lick if a skateboard goes by.
On leash, snarl; off leash, wag tail!
I have this theory if you’d care to hear it.
It’s All About Freedom
Bev and I agree on this theory: Maggie does not like giving up her freedom. She feels threatened on-leash. She feels free and safe off-leash.
On-leash she feels as though she has no control. Off-leash she feels unencumbered by restraints and owner interference.
I don’t think I would have thought of it if it hadn’t been for the big “face mask” controversy we see in today’s world.
I know, I know, that sounds like quite a stretch, but hang with me for a moment.
There are so many out there who simply refuse to wear a face mask during this pandemic. At first it baffled me, then it angered me, but finally I figured it out. Those who don’t wear face masks, almost to a person, say they do not believe the government should dictate how they live their lives. Many have even gone so far as to say it is their Constitutional right not to wear face masks, a bit of a stretch for sure, but anytime someone in the U.S. feels one of their rights is being threatened, they always refer to that nebulous document, the United States Constitution, as proof-positive that they are right and just.
Some of you may poo-poo this concept, especially if you are a resident of some other country, but I assure you that in the United States, personal freedoms are a massive topic guaranteed to bring on an argument.
Just take gun control for an example.
You’ve probably heard we have a gun controversy in the good old U.S of A. Mass shootings always ignite a firestorm of arguments. Some call for elimination of street-sweepers and other overkill weapons, while others say this is an infringement against their Constitutional rights to bear arms.
Now I don’t think for a second that gun advocates really believe that Americans need an AK-47 for protection. I would submit to you that if you can’t stop what you need to stop with a .44 Magnum handgun, you probably shouldn’t even have a gun, but that’s beside the point. No, the gun advocates really aren’t arguing about any particular type of gun; they are concerned that one restriction will lead to another restriction which will lead to total loss of that one particular freedom.
We also see it with freedom of speech. We see that particular can of worms almost daily on the news. People should be allowed to say whatever the hell they want to say, and if it hurts your feelings well that’s just too bad – but some free speech can go too far, or so says the Supreme Court, and then restrictions are imposed, and free speech is abridged, and once you start messing with freedoms, people feel threatened.
Maggie would understand that way of thinking completely.
The Quiet of a Pandemic
It’s not so obvious now, but three months ago our neighborhood was very, very quiet. Most people were inside, concerned about the virus and unwilling to venture outside. It’s not quite that way now but still, compared to a year ago, these walks are conducted in a muffled world. Oh, the robins still sing, and dogs still bark, but the background noise of everyday living is much-less intrusive. Fewer lawn mowers, fewer chain saws, fewer outdoor parties, and truth be told I’m fine with it. I like the quiet. I love hearing nature and nothing else. The squirrels chittering and chattering, the crackle of dry brush as a rabbit flees into the woods, the babble of the brook as we pass by, and the subtle sounds of wind brushing tree limbs as it progresses west to east, destination New York and beyond.
I am at home with the quiet. I embrace it, and so does Maggie. Toby, he’s still a puppy, still full of adventure and rambunctious spirit, a tornado with legs, so noise is all right for him, but me and Maggie, we can sit in quiet, without leashes on either of us, and we are content and unthreatened.
It’s all so damned complicated but still, pretty simple and not complicated at all.
We all want to be free!
A line from a poem, written long ago, something like “what more could please the soul than to walk free and know no superior,” and Maggie would be a huge fan of that poet if she understood English.
And so the Walk Continues
Past the lawnmowers and weedwhackers, past the pruners and the car-washers, past the mothers playing with children and the retirees resting under the shade of porches, hello, Mary, nice day, Bob, love the weather, Pete, onward we walk through the Northeast Neighborhood of Olympia, Washington, population 54,000 in a corner of the United States, 54,000 out of eight billion, unique, all, but not so terribly different than all others . . . just one man with two dogs, a common man, common dogs, a scene replayed over and over again, here and elsewhere, continuity among complexities.
And I like that too!
I stop, bend down, give Maggie and Toby a pat on their heads, sit down on the grass under an alder tree, and tell them they are good dogs. Toby licks my face. Maggie rests her head in my lap, safety with her human, earlier concerns about freedom gone for the moment. A warm brush of wind blows by, the leaves rustle, and in my seventy-first year I am reminded of just how good life is. I wish my best friend, Frank, gone now for six months, could be sitting with me, laughing with me. I wish my dad, gone now for fifty years, could be sitting with me, telling me everything will be all right.
But I have my dogs, and when we get home, I’ll have my wife, and that’s pretty damned good.
Thank you for joining us! Me, Maggie, and Toby, we appreciate your company.
Until next time, at the edge of the driveway, where the wonders begin, be safe and please, do all things with love.
2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)