June 11, 2019

“…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

-Hamlet 2.2.250-51


One day, it’s warm enough that I work up a sweat in shirtsleeves, walking with Waldo. The next day, I’m bound up in a jacket in low fifties, windy weather as we rush to finish our walk before rain starts. Spring in New England is so inconsistent.

My grandson, Matty (9 years old), is a Cub Scout and has an overnight spring campout scheduled at nearby Nobscot Scout Reservation. His pack reserved a large cabin (it can sleep some fifty people in bunk beds) about a half mile hike into the woods from a parking lot. Scouts and their families can stay in tents if they wish, but in the worse-case scenario, there is still the nice dry cabin to sleep in if needed. It has a woodburning potbellied stove that keeps the place warm(ish), even in the winter. If it rains, though, the camp will be a muddy mess. I plan on taking Waldo, so I’m watching the weather carefully as the day approaches. The four of us – Matty, his father, Waldo and I – have decided to stay in the cabin regardless of the weather, but the thought of dealing with a wet, mud-caked dog in cold, rainy weather is not very appealing, so I may need to reconsider taking the fur-face if the forecast is bad enough. I’m also a little worried if the kids and parents will accept Waldo being with us. Waldo, hell, if he had to make the decision, would be happy just being out in the woods in any weather and is always eager to meet new friends. So far, the prediction is for rain the day before the camp and in the morning we’re scheduled to come home, but dry the day and night of the camp. I pack up a portable dog crate, Waldo’s dishes, a day’s worth of dog food and his accoutrements. It looks like it’s a go. If things don’t pan out, we’re not so far from home it would be a big deal to just go home.

At ten AM, Matty, Waldo and I meet some of the other scouts and their parents in the parking lot. Matty’s dad had something he had to do and will meet us later after the scheduled day hike in the early afternoon. Waldo is the only dog with the pack, but not the only dog on the reserve. The kids and parents meet him and immediately fall in love. The feeling is mutual as Waldo wag-waddles over to meet and lick each and every one. As we start off on the trail to the cabin, Waldo establishes the need to be out in front and no one can (or is particularly interested to) contest it. I thought he might try to herd us, but no, he’s on point. He’s very excited and dashes from one side of the trail to the other, out amongst the poison ivy and ticks, sniffing everything. It’s as if he’s thinking, so much to smell, so little time to smell it. There must be a whole ocean of new sights, sounds and odors for him amongst the trees, bushes, dead leaves and weeds. He seems besides himself with glee. I watch, relax and enjoy a nice day in the woods myself.

We dump our stuff off in the cabin and are soon on our hike. The trail we take goes to a dam the locals call Ford’s Folly. Apparently, years ago, Henry Ford meant to put up an assembly plant nearby and directed that a dam be built to form a mill pond. It was built, but it was constructed over porous ground and the water leaked underneath it, so no pond could form. The thing is still there, useless, alone in the middle of nowhere and a nice destination for a short hike. It’s about a mile and a half from the cabin, through the woods, up and down some gentle hills – a good walk for Boy Scouts of any age. Dogs too.

On our return to the cabin, we meet up with Matty’s dad and spend the rest of the day doing Boy Scout stuff. The night was uneventful. Waldo slept soundlessly in his portable crate, and in the morning, we got up and back to the cars an hour before the rain started. Scouting is all about being in the outdoors and learning how to take whatever comes comfortably and safely, so there is no such thing as canceling on account of weather. It made me think. Rain or shine, muddy or dusty, hot or cold, it’s ludicrous to call the weather good or bad. That’s just a state of mind that you can change. The weather is just the weather. Waldo should have come with us, no matter what Zeus might have thrown our way. In any case, he would be ecstatic just spending the entire day outside.

You know, in so many ways, Waldo is pushing me out of my comfort zone, and that is a good thing.

Waldo is loved.

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