November 08, 2022

Sassafras tree.


Autumn leaves shower like gold, like rainbows, as the winds of change begin to blow.

-Dan Millman


It’s mid-October, as I write this, and the trees have only started to change color.  It was only a few years ago, no more than a couple of decades, that in late September, the vibrant colors of fall would flow out over the land like a dawn-colored quilt, full of yellows, oranges and reds.  I vividly remember flying, that time of year, a small Cessna at five thousand feet over New England to witness a mottled, undulating sea of color, stretching out in all directions as far as I could see.  But no more.  Now, we have to wait until the end of October to witness Mother Nature show off the splendor of her fall, leafy gown.  In so many ways, the effect of global warming is showing its effect.

Waldo and I are still constrained, largely, to walking around the apartment complex.  The trees here are somewhat different from those alongside the rail-trail.  The grounds have been horticuluralized, according to someone’s idea of landscape beauty.  I like their choices, they provide more variety, but they are not exactly what nature would have chosen.  There are still plenty of tall oaks and various types of maples, but there are also rarer species, like sassafras, dogwood, yew, juniper, cedar and cypress, in abundance.  Most of them are still green, although some are starting to convert to Kodachrome.  The dogwoods are now deep red.  There is a large red maple that has caught fire and the Norway maples, usually a dark shade of Sacramento green, have turned a brown/maroon hue.  I wonder how the rail-trail has changed.  It’s been five weeks since we’ve been down there.

Waldo’s changed some too, although that has nothing to do with the season.  He’s always been full of verve and is eager to go, but now he feels the need to run as fast as he can, as permitted by the length of the leash.  He pulls harder and is a bit more frantic to go out.  I can’t walk that far, but I can get away with walking more often.   Still, it doesn’t seem to be enough.  He’s just not getting enough exercise.

So, I take him to a fenced-in little league baseball field and let him off-leash.  Most fields have no trespassing signs on them, I just found out that this one does not.  Once on the field, he immediately runs up to the fence and then gallops at full throttle along its entire length.  He does this over and over again, always in a counterclockwise direction, until he can go no more.  It’s good for me because I neither have to walk nor even stand.  I sit in the dugout and watch him go.  After a while, he comes over to me and lays in a patch of shade, panting heavily.  I give him a few minutes of rest, then I stand and wander out onto the field, encouraging him to follow and get it all out of his system.  Waldo gets up and follows.  That’s all it takes and he’s back at the fence-line and off again, full-blast.  This is obviously something he really needs.

After an hour, we get back in the car and go home.  Later in the day, I have to take my grandson to soccer practice, so while that’s going on, Waldo and I walk around the edge of the field nine times.  That also takes an hour and is just about two miles long.  All in all, that’s more exercise in a single day than we’ve had in over a month.  I just hope I don’t pay for it tonight and tomorrow…

All that activity must have done Waldo some good, because, on our last poop and pee walk before we go to bed, Waldo is much calmer and less frenetic.  He’s out at the forward end of the leash, romping and pouncing, but he’s not pulling nearly as hard as he has been.  He’s a happy dog tonight.  I just need to keep this level of activity up until we can return to our usual haunt.

The good news is, it looks like I’m not going to need surgery.  Sometime in the coming weeks, I’ll be getting a steroid shot in my back.  Given the fact that the oral steroids I took helped as much as they did, I’m quite hopeful, as is my physiatrist, that the shot will take care of the problem and I’ll be back at my normal level of activity shortly thereafter.  I’ll have to start slow and increase the distance we walk gradually, but we should be back to where we were after a couple of weeks — along with an occasional visit to the ballpark for the heavy workout.  Just maybe, we’ll be back out there amidst Mother Nature when she is finally ready to flout her autumn beauty.  I don’t think Waldo cares one way or another about all the colors, but I am very sure he’s ready to get back on the trail.

God knows, I am.


Now, that’s what I call a red oak!

Leave a Reply