May 25, 2021

Things are definitely getting green!


A dog is one of the remaining reasons why some people can be persuaded to go for a walk.

-Orlando Aloysius Battista


The undergrowth has blossomed and leaved-out.  As Waldo and I walk along, we pass the greenery of weeping forsythia, eastern hemlock and northern white cedar.  The purple flowers of catawba rhododendron and eastern redbud, the white flowers of paradise apple and the pink flowers of hall crabapple all wave at us as we pass by.  I pull out my phone and speciate multiflora rose, black locust, autumn olive, eastern leatherwood, black cherry, Carolina allspice and Japanese knotweed.   What was once an indistinct blur of green plants and multicolored flowers has become a plethora of different species.  All I had to do to discover them is pay attention to what is around me.  The Waldo Rail-Trail travels through so many different kinds of foliage, you’d think it goes through a well-planned garden.  I’m pretty sure, though, that all these plants were seeded by Mother Nature, not man.  It is wild.  It is a wonder.  There are so many different living things thriving in and amongst dissimilar living things.  It should serve as an example for human kind.  But we have a habit of ignoring our interdependent relationships to the rest of the world, pretending that we are separate from it.

The forest canopy has yet to fill out in all of its shady verdure.  High overhead, the leaves of the black walnut, oak and maples are still small and furled.  It won’t be long and their need to spread out and absorb as much of the life-giving solar radiant energy as possible will cause a shower of cool shadow to splay out over the ground.  It’s warm enough that I don’t have to wear a jacket or sweater, yet cool enough so that what light does penetrate the relatively denuded limbs of the trees feels pleasantly warming.  Waldo and I are not alone in enjoying walking here today.  There are many bicycles, joggers, strollers and dog-walkers out to exercise.

I know the names of none of the people we pass, although some are regulars out here.  The dogs, though, I know.  And why shouldn’t it be so?  They’re the ones who sidle up to Waldo and me, tails wagging, seeking a sniff here or there, a pat or a pet, and offering up a lick or two.  The people, I try to stay a good six feet away from due to Covid.  We don’t see any of the dogs every time we walk, but we often meet Abbey, Arthur, Dingo and Razzle, Jax, Dallas, Haiyas and many others.  They seem eager to stop by and say hello, do a quick meet and greet, then continue on their way.  Oh, there are the occasional trouble makers, dogs who growl and lunge at their tightly held leashes as we pass.  But those dogs, we walk quietly past and ignore.

It’s not like I don’t talk to the people we pass.  Waldo does his butt-wiggling tail-wag, approaching each for a quick sniff and maybe a wet slurp as I cheerily say hello and exchange pleasantries.  That’s usually the extent of any conversation, unless there are dogs present.  We then exchange dog names, ages, sexes and breeds.  It’s not unheard of to discover each dog’s idiosyncrasies and maybe an amusing story about how dogs will be dogs.  It’s not that the dogs are more important than the people, nor even that talking about dogs is safer than sharing personal information.  It’s more that if you’re going to all the trouble of walking a dog out on the trail, it’s likely that you love dogs and like to share that love with others who feel the same way.  And you get to meet some furry, soft, cute, friendly, happy canines as well.  The dogs?  Hey, they’ll take as much affectionate attention as you’re willing to give.

When we’re not interacting with others, Waldo and I walk along, Waldo doing his Waldo thing, me bathing in the essence of the forest, breathing in its wildness and wonder.  Waldo is absorbed in the smell of everything and I diffuse into the varied, multifarious, sensual experience of the present moment in the woods.  When we’re done, we both are agreeably tired and in need of a short rest that is gloriously relaxing.

Then we get up to do it again.


Where’s Waldo?
Not everything is green.

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