The Autumn Leaves
“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold”
Weird what we remember. As a young teen I took organ lessons, and “Autumn Leaves” was a song I played often at recitals. I have been humming that song now for weeks while on these walks with Maggie. I hope you don’t mind if I keep on humming while we walk today. It just seems fitting that I do.
Thanks for joining us today. Maggie has raced ahead of us, so we best pick up the pace and catch up with my girl. Toby stayed at home today. He’s still a bit too aggressive with the chickens, so he’s banished from the farm until I have the time to work with him on his manners.
A Beautiful Song
“Autumn Leaves” is a beautiful song, for sure, but also a very sad one. The guy has lost his lover. Either she flew the coop, or died, but you can feel his loss through his words:
“Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song”
Beauty in sadness . . . sadness in beauty . . . we all understand, don’t we? I do for sure. The beautiful colors of last week are now gone, replaced by grays and browns, a stark blanket covering the landscape, and at times becoming one with the landscape, where does the sky begin, the landscape end, one and the same when the mist lowers and the air’s dampness infiltrates clothing and infiltrates the mood of those braving a walk along a country road.
There is no sadness in Maggie. Her world consists of Bev and I, her humans, really her reason for living, to please us, to receive love from us, and that’s a heavy responsibility on any human, but I’m up for it, so I hear beauty in that song today, no sadness, me rambling on here, no grammar rules weighing me down.
Racing up Ahead
Something has Maggie’s attention as she sprints ahead, aimed at one particular spot in the woods, nothing I can see but certainly Maggie can, she reaches the spot and stops, the barking commences, no tail-wagging occurring, little signs easily spotted, signs which tell us friend or foe, me trusting my girl to get it right the first time and every time, her intuition and my intuition in lockstep always.
I never do find out what it was. It’s gone by the time I get there, and after a minute Maggie loses interest and trots off to explore other nooks and crannies of her own personal “hundred acre woods,” a shout out to Pooh and Christopher Robin, a book coming to mind from ten years back, The Tao of Pooh, Maggie and I highly recommend it.
The words of Pooh:
“To know the Way,
We go the Way;
We do the Way
The way we do
The things we do.
It’s all there in front of you,
But if you try too hard to see it,
You’ll only become Confused.”
You can’t try too hard on these walks. Truth arrives when the mind empties and we simply become a part of this mini-universe. That may well be the greatest gift Maggie has given to me, the ability to simply be. There are no expectations on these walks. There are no demands. I must meet no standards, must follow no rules . . . I simply must be.
My level of awareness rises dramatically on these walks. My mind is empty of outside influences. I am able to “see” with much clearer vision, and that is a priceless gift I wish for all of you. You all have that place, where the pavement ends and the wonder begins, and the longer you spend in that place, the more you will experience what I experience on these walks.
Or so it seems to me, but then what do I know? I’m just a bear with little brain. Lol
The Rain Stops and . . .
The mist rises, but still there are no colors . . . or are there? Pay attention and the different hues present themselves. Brown is, after all, a color, and the browns mix with the evergreens mix with the gray mix with the drab yellows, losing their luster, but then the sun breaks through and magically new colors appear, and how does that happen, a trick of the mind, or just Mother Nature weaving a spell of magic over the land? The less I think on it, the more magical it becomes, as though my mind has the power to drain the mystical from life, and me thinking perhaps I should just stop thinking and enjoy it all, like my girl, Maggie, not much thought process happening with her as she splashes through a puddle and chases a wayward leaf blowin’ in the wind.
“Bill, stop your daydreaming now, and get back to your assignment,” Sister Mary Catherine always cracking the whip, looking to maximize my potential in 5th Grade, and I smile at the memory, the fallacy in it, for daydreaming is all about potential, is it not, and why would anyone ever want to minimize the wonder of daydreams? Of course I didn’t say those words to Sister Mary Catherine, not while she was holding that yardstick, deadly with her aim to the top of my young hand, like a whip or a cobra, quick-like, and hurt like holy hell, pun intended.
The Area Has a Thousand Eyes
We are being watched. Of that I have no doubt. Coyotes are prowling as we walk, their numbers increasing in this area as their habitat shrinks. Same with the possums, raccoons, weasels, deer . . . we’ve even had three cougar sightings in these parts in the last month, and let’s not forget the black bear . . . all are out there as we walk, a bit disconcerting to be sure, predators galore, big and small, one-hundred feet, maybe one-fifty, between sharp teeth and claws, them probably thinking the same thing, all of us walking a tightrope, civilization and the wild, a truce of sorts, for today. Maggie knows they are there, I can see it in her mannerisms, always aware, but somehow also aware of danger or non-danger, some inherent sense, a sense I do not have. So trust is the name of that game, some basic communication passing among us all, safe passage, no ill will, and we’ll catch you down the road.
The Work Crews Continue
The finishing touches being done on the two new homes along our walk. The work crews shout out Maggie’s name, they all know her now, I suspect a piece of jerky is occasionally offered in greeting, and my girl wags her tail and barks in response, runs to one of them, sniffs his hand, and returns to me, her safety, her human, and I feel that responsibility and I cherish it. The truck is up ahead, where the wonder ends and the pavement begins, and our walk is coming to an end, sad to say.
We make one quick detour down to the farm, check on the chickens, make sure they have food, and Maggie herds the guinea fowl away so they don’t steal the food, never trust a guinea fowl, my advice for all of you today, and Maggie concurs. Not once in two-and-a-half years have I seen Maggie hurt a guinea fowl, but somehow, some way, they know she means business when she goes into her crouch and slowly walks in their direction. It’s pretty cool to see, this ballet of nature, available to anyone with eyes and a heart.
I don’t have much in the way of possessions, mostly secondhand stuff, not worth a hoot and a holler. What I do have, though, are not possessions and yet are priceless in value. I am surrounded by love. I have a dog who adores me, a wife who is my steadfast partner, and friends from around the world. I have peace of mind, good health, and love in my heart. What do you think of all that, Sister Mary Catherine? Not bad for a daydreamer, eh?
I am a rich man!
If you feel like joining us on one of these walks, you are always welcome. Just about daily you can find us where the pavement ends and the wonder begins, just a man and his dog, walking down a country road.
Until next time!
And wishing you all a Loving Thanksgiving!
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)