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Travels with Maggie: Longer Days, Record Rains

I haven’t seen hide nor hair of you guys lately, partly my fault, been busy with this or that, no time in my mind for a stroll into the Land of Wonder. But that way of thinking comes to an end today. Won’t you join us, at the edge of the pavement, where the driveway ends and the wonders begin?

Ready and waiting patiently

Ready and waiting patiently

Pay Close Attention

Such a subtle change, two or three minutes per day, the Winter Solstice behind us, longer days ahead, hardly noticed if you aren’t paying attention, but there’s something about it, you know, those couple minutes mean hope, hope that the rains will end and the warmth of spring will spread over us like Grandma’s loving comforter.

The sun, when we see it hereabouts, is slightly higher in the sky, maybe a degree or two, don’t seem worth mentioning but damn, there’s something about it, a quickening of steps on our walk, a lighter spirit, hard to find the words but real nonetheless. And the rains, damn those rains, their severity lessens as January heads towards February, again subtle, but appreciated for sure by those of us who believe the Ark most likely had its origins here in the Pacific Northwest.

During the deep darkness of December and January, Winter holds its icy breath, but as January slowly transitions to February, an exhale can be detected, a slight warmth expelled, and there is hope.

The dogs, they don’t mind the rain, most times, Toby looks for puddles to lay in, Maggie soldiering on, her thick fur a natural insulator, and I find myself jealous at times, wishing I was young again, not caring, running and splashing and shrieking with joy, coming home as a kid, soaking wet, mud-splattered, Mom taking one look at me and telling me to “strip at the door, young man, don’t you be tracking that mess in this house,” but laughing when she said it, and holy damn I miss that woman, love personified she was.

Our 'Hood

Our 'Hood

Fellow Walkers Sense It as Well

You can see it in the people we pass. Heads are no longer bowed in misery but held higher, a sign of positivity if I ever saw it, and smiles are genuine, not guarded. People take the time to move beyond small talk, the fear of drowning behind them, a willingness to actually converse emerges, and it is welcomed by extroverts and introverts, for there are only so many times you can talk to yourself, in January, before you begin to worry about your sanity.

Their steps are slower-paced, no concerns about the weather, taking their time as they walk their dogs, or just walk themselves, enjoying the scenery, looking closer at the wonder of it all, as though seeing it for the first time.

Social distancing is ever-present, the new normal no longer new, but the fear has subsided ten months into it, wary glances have become friendlier, survivors one and all, sharing in the glory of facing our worst fears, facing the unknown and living to talk about it. Stories will be shared for years to come, grandkids on knees, or sitting around campfires, stories of the invisible monster, no bigger than a pinhead, and a community that learned to adjust and eventually thrive.

A lovely nature trail two blocks from our home

A lovely nature trail two blocks from our home

Nature’s Subtle Signs

You have to look closely, squint actually, to see them, but they are there, buds on trees, buds on shrubbery, here a bud, there a bud, everywhere a bud, bud, and squint a bit harder and you’ll see green, the color of revitalization, the color of growth, yes, the color of life.

A young crocus raises its head above the compost and mulch, a lone sentinel, or a scout perhaps, his job (her job, their job) to alert the others, yes it’s safe, no it’s not, come follow me if you dare, and two doors down we see another.

Robins are out in full force, a lovely sight, a lovely sound, and the squirrels, chattering away, sprinting from limb to limb, did they winter, seems I’ve seen them every single day of December and January, evidently gathering nuts and supplies for the winter that never arrived, a stockpile for next year, perhaps, and I’m reminded whenever I see them of “whistle while you work,” the old Disney song/movie, those damned squirrels always happy doing their chores, we should bottle that enthusiasm up and inject it into every American worker, me thinks, eternal happiness in the workplace, a nation of Stepford Clones, and my mind is on overdrive as the walk continues.

Anyway, squirrels drive Toby nuts but Maggie is nonplussed, what a wondrous word that is, nonplussed, a magical mystery tour of etymology if you ask me but then, no one has.

My Walking Partners Have Changed

Maggie is now three-and-a-half, Toby eighteen months younger, but Toby is noticeably bigger, sleeker, more muscular, Maggie sporting a matronly spread, a softness. Maggie with the lovely face, the human eyes, a gentle kindness in her appearance; Toby with the elongated snout, inquisitive eyes, barely-restrained energy crackling just beneath his surface. Oddly, if I were going into battle, which I’m not and most likely never will be, it would be Maggie I would want by my side. There is a she-wolf inside of her, seen her chase a coyote, I did, no fear in my girl when it comes to threats, so beware anyone who thinks that gentle face reflects her inner fire, for it does not. Toby, he’s more likely to lick you to death, for he’s never met a human he didn’t instantly like.

Almost daily I will hear, on these walks, “what lovely dogs you have,” or “my goodness, they’re adorable,” which just goes to show the good taste of those living around us, and they are good-looking for sure, always reminding me of Tramp in “Lady and the Tramp,” another shout out to Disney, their thick fur coarse to the touch, their appearance more mid-sized Airedale than anything else, herders by breeding, working dogs, and they need a substantial amount of exercise, keeping Bev and I quite busy during the week, happy work, no obligations, work we willingly do, for they give us more joy than we could have imagined, and my mind goes back, so many years now, to a little kid, desperately in need of a friend, and a little puppy, Pixie, my friend for twenty years, a bond so strong it has lasted half a century.

I am grateful for that little puppy, and I am grateful for these two now, my friends, my companions, who look at me, daily, as though I walk on water, my eyes fill up, thinking about their loyalty and love for me. Maggie always close by when I work, laying down at my feet, looking up at me, letting me know she’s there, always will be; Toby, he’ll come into my office, put his head in my lap, leave it there until I rub behind his ear, tell him he’s a good boy, Toby the one always looking for reassurance, always needing his human to exhibit love for him.

The Turn for Home

We take a right on Fir Street, off of Miller Avenue, and we are four houses away from our home. We pass new neighbors, young couple, moved in the first of the year, a new beginning, seem like nice kids, me laughing, referencing them as kids, a sure sign I’m older than dirt. Maggie hasn’t given them her approval yet, they will have to earn it, but Toby has the tail wagging as I say hello from the street, welcoming them to the neighborhood, telling them we are glad they are here, and we are for sure. It’s nice to see new beginnings, a young couple, their lives spread out before them, decades together, working towards common goals, their love the glue that holds it all together.

And then we are home, the woodstove providing comfort, the dogs head for the couch, tuckered out, time for a nap, and me chores, always chores, waiting for Bev to come home, Bev, the glue that holds it all together for me, for the dogs.

Thanks so much for joining us on our walk today. I hope this finds you well as January turns into February, and the days gain in length. You are welcome any old time you feel like stretching out those limbs and pumping some blood through your veins. You can find us where the pavement ends and the wonders begin, Olympia, Washington, in the gold old U.S. of A!

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 03, 2021:

Thank you Devika! I'm so glad you enjoy my stories.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 02, 2021:

Bill you share such wonderful stories and life with pets are a responsibility.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 01, 2021:

Brenda, if you guys keep getting winter storms, you may not see crocuses for quite some time. Stay safe out there. Here it's just rain and more rain, not a sniff of snow to be had.

Maggie and Toby send their best wishes to you.


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on January 30, 2021:


So glad you could get out for a walk.

Toby & Maggie seem like such adorable little doggies. Different like two peas in a pod, but that's what makes it work good.

I had not heard the word nonplussed before...but I know of it now. I like that Toby is curious, not exactly sure what to think while Maggie is the all protector with an adorable demeanor.

I would have been scared witless when she chased a coyote.

I haven't seen any crocus peer it's head through the ground yet, but I have them in my flower beds.

I wish you & Bev a wonderful weekend.

Take care.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

Personifying it indeed, Zulma, and I'm more than ready for it to die and be gone from us. It has overstayed its welcome for sure.

Have a great weekend! Sorry I'm so late. We had a few events around our home which took me away from the computer.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

Thanks a bunch, Greg! If I made your eyes fill up, I've done my job as a writer. I do hope they were happy tears, buddy! Take care!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

I hope the same, Jason. We've been doing this new normal for over a year now, and we all need a break. Thank you for walking with us. Wipe your feet now; we don't want you tracking dirt into the house. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

I agree completely, Flourish! Much loved and valued indeed, my friend. Thank you and yes, it was about time I wrote a bit about my mom.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

But none now, Peggy? That's a shame! I hadn't had a dog for a very long time until I met Bev. Now I can't imagine not having one. They are my constant companions.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2021:

Sha, believe it or not, it really hasn't been too cold here, not temperature-wise at least, but that dampness just doesn't go away. Dreaming of April, my friend, dreaming of April!

Maggie and Toby send their love, as do I.


Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on January 29, 2021:

Hi Bill.

Sorry I missed the walk. HP's not sending me any notifications lately. Strange, but it's happened before. Hopefully, it will sort itself out. We also had a family crisis but things are settling down.

I'm noticing signs of Spring returning here too. At nearly 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, I looked out my window and saw it was still daylight-ish and the geese are flying again. The weather is warming ever so slightly and I'm tentatively planning days out with the family, Covid willingly. Never thought the day would come when I would be personifying a virus. lol

Enjoy the rest of the week, Bill.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on January 28, 2021:

This made my eyes fill up, Bill. Thanks to you and Toby and Maggie for letting us come along. Seems like winter has thus far blown right by us, too, but that makes me fear what February might bring. Meantime, I share with you the hope that a minute more or two of sunlight each day brings. It is encouraging and refreshing. Be well and have a good week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Evidently, MizB, we are skipping winter this year here in Olympia. Oh, we've had rains by the buckets, but the cold weather has skipped us so far. It's possible here, in February, but not very common. Oh well, let's just move on to spring if we can't have pretty snow. I'm ready for the warmth of sixty degrees, and I'm tired of building fires in the woodstove.

Nothing but complaining from me today as the skies weep.

Take care, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Thank you Denise....old friends indeed....and thankful to call you one.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Me too, Ann, but for me it's because I'm 72. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Ann, thank you! I have noticed people seem to be more helpful. Definitely friendlier. And their spirits have risen. Even though the virus is still with us, it's as though people are confident we will be back to normal soon.

Thanks so much for walking with us, and thank you for your too-kind words. I do appreciate you, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

I love the fact, Linda, that it's still daylight after five. Definitely gives me hope for a sixty degree day in the not so distant future.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Becky, that's the size of our dogs, too, and Toby bounces like you are describing when he's hunting rabbits in a field. LOL Maggie is the one to take on a coyote if necessary. Such a sweet face, but a killer inside. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Bill, we have to get you a dog. I don't mind sharing mine, but you are obviously a dog-lover.

Happy Thursday, buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Isn't that the truth, Heidi! A welcome distraction for sure.

How do you keep those snow booties on your dogs. Toby would chew them off immediately, I fear.

Thanks for the company!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2021:

Louise, what a great name for a dog...Dexter! I smile whenever I hear that name. Don't know why, but I do.

Thanks for sharing and being here; keep looking for the buds. Any day now!

Jason Behm from Cebu, Philippines on January 28, 2021:

It was a common remark for a mother to her child who is entering home and soaking wet from the outside. It reminded me of my childhood. And I did the same to my nephew too. A gesture that will be passed from generation to generation.

I think everyone needs to have a walk after being confined for a long time to have a breath of fresh air. I could imagine it is walking around the plaza and plus with your dogs seeing other people too alive and in light. I just hope this pandemic will have its end with the vaccine coming.

Keep safe.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 27, 2021:

It was nice to read about your mom. You reference your dad a lot more and this is a sweet memory. It’s also nice how you live those dogs so tenderly and see their different personalities and spirits. My cats offer me different benefits of knowing and loving them. Each is a beautiful and different soul, much loved and valued as an individual.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2021:

You brought back happy memories of walking our dogs and having their company. We had three dogs at the same time, many years ago. They each had their differing personalities, as do your Toby and Maggie. Our littlest one was the fiercest. Ha!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 27, 2021:

Oh, how I've missed these walks, Bill! But being a Florida girl, I wouldn't have lasted long in the cold.

I easily envisioned you in your office with Maggie at your feet and Toby with his head in your lap. Four legged companions are so comforting, aren't they? My cats are always nearby when I'm at home. They each have their spots they've claimed as theirs when Mom's on the couch. I couldn't imagine life without them!

Thanks for the walk, Bill. I enjoyed the fresh air and the fresh perspective.

Have a great week!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on January 27, 2021:

Such a great walk today, Bill. January and February are usually our worst winter months in Arkansas, but I've seen some of our thickest snow fall in late March. This year has been mostly mellow so far. I'm just ready for spring. So is my little black furball, Tas Two, or Tasito, as I've been calling him. We have windows that stretch across the back of our bedroom wall, and he chases the squirrels back and forth across the windows. Does it the year-round. Cici just lies on the warm waterbed and lets him do all the work.

I just love your photos of the dogs, especially of them all laid out on the furniture. If that is a late photo of your hood, it is very nice. My old hood is all commercial now. A big building sits on our one acre and takes up most of it. It's housed many businesses in the last 30 years, and now a gym. When all else fails, turn it into a gym. See you next week, my friend.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 27, 2021:

I feel I would know those dogs if ever I met them. They've become old friends just as you are. Thanks for the walk in the chill air.



Ann Carr from SW England on January 27, 2021:

Lots of typing errors I can't alter, as I'm on the feed! Sorry!

Ann Carr from SW England on January 27, 2021:

This is beautiful, bill. Full of hope and a bright future.

My daffodils are shooting up, there are buds on everything and we too have squirrels bounding through the trees - amazing how elastic they are! The neighbours are out and doing DIY - always willing to help, asking how we are; our immediate neighbour was cleaning this gutter, then moved over and did ours whilst he was at it! How great is that! Such a pleasure to have lots of lovely neighbours; we are a good community here.

I feel as if I know your two doggy companions, they are so vivid in your descriptions. Also your descriptions of your surroundings and where you walk - absolutely overwhelming. You have lifted my spirits enormously today. We had no phone and on internet today as someone cut us off at the exchange - help! - but within hours we are back online and able to take our friends' calls. Wonderful!

Have you noticed how extra-helpful everyone is in these hard times? I do so hope that it lasts. It's time we reached out to everyone more and this mutual generosity is wonderful.

Have a happy Wednesday, and the rest of the week! The days are definitely getting longer - we count the minutes each day! And the hope is more far-reaching, brighter, and closer on the horizon.


Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on January 27, 2021:

Bill, Spring is definitely "in the air." I'm seeing daffodils popping out of the ground. Little piles of discarded seed hulls from the fir cones line the edges of my sidewalks (those squirrels are busy). At 5pm it's still daylight!!! I love Spring, and I love going on these walks with you--you help us take notice of the beauty in life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

John, if I've inspired you to get another dog, I am a happy dog owner. You obviously love them if you had five at one time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

My pleasure, Dora. You sound like a dog lover, and Toby and Maggie love when you walk with us. :)

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on January 27, 2021:

I noticed the other day, when it snowed, that our boy (who is 8 now), went bounding through the back 3 acres after a rabbit. Haven't seen him do that for a month or two. He bounces through the yard yipping the whole way and bouncing so high that I can see his legs all tucked up way above the tall grass out there. I love to see him doing that. The joy as he is doing his hunting bounces, just makes me laugh. He is also one that needs constant reassurances that we love him. He has one of the sweetest expressions on his face all the time and just exudes love from his big, soft eyes.

Big, 65 pound baby, but I have seen him go for a pack of coyotes in the yard, and javalina as well. They are definitely not allowed to be in the fenced yard. Always happy and ready to love you and tell you how much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

Ruby, I dread walking the dogs some days, it is so miserable. I need sixty degrees. I'm not asking for much, just sixty degrees.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

No rests for the wicked Manatita! Just working on other projects plus this remodeling is upsetting my writing hours. Thanks for walking with us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

I like that belief, Gyanendra! My dogs certainly act human from time to time...better than human at times as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

Thank you Rosina! You are welcome any old time on our walks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 27, 2021:

Thanks Mr. Happy! If you had an Airedale then you know. These dogs love exercise and play...constantly...wearing me out quite often.

Happy Wednesday, my friend. Have fun with that snow.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on January 27, 2021:

In the absence of having our own dog I thank you for taking us on a walk this morning with your four-legged friends. Nothing quite like the love and loyalty of a dog. Have a great day, Bill.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 27, 2021:

The days are definitely getting longer. But Chicago, being Chicago, we just got a bunch of snow. Our pups love it, except that it gets into their paws and it hurts. So we put on their little snow booties and it's go time.

With all the pandemic and political upheaval, walks with the pups are a welcome distraction.

Thanks for taking us along!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 27, 2021:

I enjoyed this walk, Bill. It makes me realise how much I miss having a dog around the house. At one stage we had five, but they have all gradually passed to the big kennel in the sky. It may be time to find another loyal family member and friend.

Louise Elcross from Preston on January 27, 2021:

I had a Border Collie for 17 years and I used to walk for miles everyday with her. She loved her walks even though she only had three legs. Sadly she has died now and I miss her companionship and her love. These days I walk a Poodle called Dexter because his owner is waiting for a hip replacement and cannot walk like she used to. It's very beautiful where I walk around my home, full of plants and trees and today I will be looking for the buds which is always a good sign of warmer days to come Thanks for sharing your walk with Maggie and Toby. Enjoy the rest of your day Bill.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 27, 2021:

"Maggie with the lovely face, the human eyes, a gentle kindness in her appearance; Toby with the elongated snout, inquisitive eyes ..." What interesting descriptions." You make me love and respect dogs. Thanks for these beautiful insights.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 27, 2021:

Bill, I needed this walk as much as you did, and I loved the fresh air and the buds beginning to sprout. I am looking eagerly for spring and a freeness once again. Thanks for taking me along.

manatita44 from london on January 27, 2021:

Beautiful! Missed you here. Thought you were taking a rest. You do so many different things! Amazing!

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on January 27, 2021:

Bill, Thank you for taking me for a winter walk along with the most loyal creatures on earth you have named them Toddy and Maggie.

According to Hindu belief dog is the last step of life cycle. As the dog life ends, the soul then is born to human form. While serving dogs we human accumulate good karma. So that we don't get trapped in the worst life cycles.

Rosina S Khan on January 27, 2021:

A beautiful account of your travel with your lovely dogs. I am glad I joined the walk with you. Thanks for sharing, Bill. Happy Wednesday to you.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on January 27, 2021:

"You have to look closely, squint actually, to see them, but they are there, buds on trees" - We just got dumped-on with a bunch of snow. No buds anywhere other than my weed buds in the drawer here.

"their appearance more mid-sized Airedale than anything else" - Sure is noticeable to me. I had an Airedale Terrier for 14 years. Fun dogs!

Thanks for the walk and chat - have a fun week ahead!

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