September 13, 2022

It’s still quite dark as we start out.


The best part of the day is coming home to a wagging tail.



It’s hot out today, with lows in the low 70s, so Waldo and I are up before dawn.  We have a scant three hours to finish our walk before it gets unbearably hot for Waldo.  It’s still quite dark as we start out and it’s hard for me to see Waldo.  Fortunately, nature provided him with a white-tipped tail and that, I can see as it weaves back and forth with his sashaying gait.  I can tell when he stops, but I don’t know why.  Sometimes it’s to lift a leg and pee, sometimes to pick up a stick, sometimes to smell who has gone before and sometimes it’s for something I have to know about.  I have a small bright flashlight in my pocket and I shine it on him when his taillight stops to see if he’s pooping.  I’m vigilant for that because I have to pick it up when he’s done.  Keeping the flashlight in my mouth, so I have my hands free, I shine it on the pile he leaves behind.  I pick it up in the doggy poop bag I always carry with me.  I tie the bag in a knot, the light goes back in my pocket, and we’re back on the trail.  That’s how dark it is.

Whoever said that it’s darkest before the dawn clearly wasn’t equating sunrise with dawn.  Twilight creeps up on us slowly, as we make our way down the path.  It’s a good hour before the sun comes up and I can begin to see more and more of that piece of Mother Nature that we’re walking through.  Soon, I can make out Waldo’s sable birthday suit and the leaves of the trees and bushes that surround us.  It isn’t long and it becomes light enough that I can’t tell if the sun has risen behind the foliage.  I glance at my watch.  Nope, won’t happen for another half-hour or so.  One way to tell that the sun isn’t up yet is to note that there are no shadows.  The light is diffuse without any obvious source and makes everything look a little flat, without the shadows to provide a sense of depth.

We’re halfway done with our walk before the sun creeps above the horizon and shadows appear, outlined by the golden glow of sunbeams as they slice between trunks of oak, maple and sumac.  The orb of the sun is still hidden behind the leaves, but its penetrating fingers of light give the landscape a magical, incipient promise of the day to come.  It also warns of the hot temperatures that will follow – the day is already getting warmer.

There was a mostly submerged volcano that erupted near Tonga, in the southwest Pacific Ocean, on January 15, 2022.  Named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, it created a cloud of water vapor about ten times the size of Singapore.  This water shot up into the stratosphere (between 8 and 33 miles above sea level), in an amount so large that it increased the amount of water vapor already there by a good 10%.  This increased upper atmospheric water vapor traps heat near the surface of the Earth like carbon dioxide does and may add to our problem of global warming.  It can take five to ten years before the upper atmospheric water vapor can dissipate, so this effect could last awhile.  That’s all we need.

What I know for sure is that it’s getting pretty hot before we finish our walk.  And it’s only six-thirty AM!  Waldo is dropping his sticks so he can let his tongue (man, he has a long tongue!) dangle, dripping, in an effort to pant effectively.  He’s going from shady patch to shady patch to avoid the sunlight and his gait is slowing down.  I’m soaking my shirt with sweat and it’s hard to hold onto the leash handle because my hands are so wet.  We’re both looking forward to the AC at home as we finish our trek.  And the forecast is for even hotter days for the next month or so.  Sigh.

I put Waldo in the front passenger seat, sit behind the steering wheel and roll down the windows.  Waldo gets a treat, just ‘cause, which he accepts with joy.  He seems as grateful to be sitting as I feel.  I’m slimed in the treating process and pat him on the head, wiping the worst of it away so I don’t smear goo everywhere.  “Another day and another six miles,” I say to him.  He audibly sighs.

God, it’s good to be back in the groove.


Early morning twilight over Fort Meadow Reservoir.

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