April 5, 2022

Sigh. More snow…


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery.  The revery alone will do, If bees are few.

-Emily Dickinson


It snowed again.  It started falling shortly before Waldo and I began our walk and never really came down very hard.  It left behind a little less than two inches, just enough to cover most everything in a drape of pure whiteness.  Waldo and I did pass a few other people and dogs, but there were also places where the snow on the path was untouched, virgin, until we left marks that told we were there.  Waldo loves to bury his face in fresh snow, and sometimes rolls over and leaves snow-puppies.  The temperature was right around freezing, so it wasn’t hard to dress for it and I was neither chilled nor working up a sweat.  Waldo seemed to be in an ideal temperature and was quite happy, romping as the white flakes came down.  All the other animals appeared to have more sense than we did and were not to be seen.  Not an owl hoot, a crow caw, nor squirrel chatter was heard.  I’ve seen deer on and off the trail on occasion, and sometimes find their tracks in the snow.  Today, though, they must be holed up somewhere, because there was no sign of them.  Just people and dogs.

I remember when I was younger, I didn’t spend much time enjoying the outdoors.  I didn’t just sit and absorb whatever Mother Nature chose to perform at the moment.  I was driven to search out activities that had a more frenetic, energized and consuming nature.  Things that were thrilling and exciting, things that had a certain element of threat, but without the immediate promise of real danger.  Like rides in an amusement park, for example.

Even at the time, I was struck with the question as to why so many human beings sought out the plunging roller coaster, or the various rides that whip you around and upside down.  I thought that maybe it was because we work so hard at enveloping ourselves in a cocoon of safety that we lose the challenge of standing toe-to-toe with life’s intimidating essence and miss looking eye-to-eye at its formidable countenance.  We do so well at insulating ourselves that a kind of ennui overwhelms us and urges us to seek out seemingly ominous, yet ultimately harmless, activities.  Then, after having dosed ourselves with an inoculation of vigorous chills, we’re satisfied, for a while, to return to our lives of relative comfort and ease.  For a while.

For me, this drive to invigorate myself with thrills morphed into meeting the challenge of mastering the difficult.  I learned how to fly, then how to safely perform aerobatics.  I have never felt that aerobatics is dangerous or threatening of my well-being, but more of a difficult task that can, with work and practice, be conquered exquisitely.  That’s hubris, if for no other reason than stuff can go wrong and if the wrong stuff goes wrong at the wrong time, you’re pretty much screwed.  But it’s also true that pilots are trained how to safely get themselves out of horrible circumstances, most of the time.  If all else fails, you have a parachute.  But still, the focus is more one of being able to make the plane do exactly what you want it to do. Not to come face to face with your mortality.  I’ve been alarmed at times when things go sideways, but I’ve never felt like I could very well be injured or die.  I was more worried about screwing up than about getting hurt.

My thrill-seeking has now morphed into noticing and really engaging with the magic that surrounds us at every moment of every day.  That is plenty challenging as well, what with all the mundane distractions that are perpetually tugging at my attention.  And this at a time and an advanced age where my death is ever so much closer than it has ever been.  I’m still healthy enough to walk with Waldo more than six miles every day, but I’m old enough that I know that the biological inevitability of my death is not that many years in my future.  It’s not the thrill of defying injury and death that now interests me, it’s the beauty of the world as it is that draws my awareness.  I’m perfectly happy and deeply engaged by listening, looking, smelling, hearing and tasting the world outdoors as I walk with Waldo down the trail.

Waldo has never suffered from a need for thrills.  His life is thrilling enough just being in and interacting with Mother Nature, playing with whatever the moment provides.

And watching his spontaneous romp in the world thrills me plenty.


Waldo will make snow puppies anywhere.

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