It is Good to Be a Dog

img_2968  While my mind and emotions are still in turmoil following this week’s presidential election, I find comfort in my canine companion. How great it would be to be my dog for a day! Relaxed and content without a care in the world…

No concerns about when he will get his next nutritious meal. No doubts that he will always be able to snuggle on his bed, warmed by a cozy fire. No consideration that he will not be able to get his medications or see the vet when he needs to. No fears that the beautiful parks and nature preserves where he loves to roam will no longer exist. img_9310

Taking for granted that his day will always be filled with kind, caring people who will continue to shower him with abundant treats. Falling asleep each night to chase dreams about squirrels and waking up in the morning being able to fulfill them.

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Having the expectation that everything will always be the same and there is no reason to assume that anything bad could happen.

It sounds nice, but I suppose it would get a little too routine and boring for us humans after a while. So, instead I will try to tap into some of my dog’s calm and steady reassurance that life goes on, the sun will always come up and a new day is ahead- which will hopefully put me in a better state of mind.

So now, please excuse me, my dog is letting me know that it is time for our daily walk. Who knows what exciting things we will find today!

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(I would like to post this in tribute to all the dogs we have known and loved who bring peace, happiness and a bright outlook to their humans.)

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Mud Season

We are now in the month of February. Pawxatauney Phil has seen his shadow and 6 more weeks of winter are predicted. Given the way the climate seems to have shifted this year, I fear that means we will have a longer mud season rather than snow. Yesterday the temperature reached 60 here, 25 degrees above normal. The hard frozen turf had started to thaw, becoming squishy under my feet. The little piles of snow and ice had melted, forming murky puddles everywhere.

By this afternoon, the ice should have melted.

There are only two things to do- walk on the road and avoid them, or don your boots and old jeans and embrace them.

When I taught preschool, I always took my students outside, even if it was muddy. I knew that most parents would prefer not to deal with muddy children at home, but would not object to washing snowpants or boots off as long as the kids were clean and well-exercised by the time they went home. My own son often spent hours roaming the wooded area behind the house, tramping through muddy puddles in search of frogs.     Much to my annoyance, he could care less if his pants and shoes were caked in mud. At least I was able to train him to strip down in the narrow entryway we call our  “mud hall”, leaving his shoes, socks, pants and coat on the rack or tray.     

I never had to worry about my daughter getting muddy. She would hold the frogs in her hand if he brought them back to the yard, but she would not chase them into the mud if they got away.      She preferred to let her brother do the dirty work.

Everyone has their own level of tolerance for such things.  When I looked up other posts about mud, I found two that caught my eye (see related links below). They both have pictures of people frolicking in the mud. I certainly enjoy the cool nourishing feeling of a mud mask from time to time, but mud wrestling does not appeal to me.

Unfortunately, my dogs have no concerns about splashing through the puddles or digging in the mud. They don’t consider the consequence that they will need a bath, which they hate. So that leaves me with the dilemma. Do I let them run off leash, sniffing and enjoying the thrill of the mud;       

or do I keep them on the road where the best they can do is follow the mailbox trail?   

I better stock up on some doggie shampoo. It’s gonna be a long mud season.

Check out these sites for a laugh:

http://elenamaimonis.wordpress.com/2012/01.26/laugh/

http://www.townofguilderland.org/Pages/GuilderlandNY_Recreation/MudMania

Fall Leaf Collecting: Relaxation and Inspiration

 Sometimes the words just don’t come. I meditate through my yoga routine, I steam in the shower trying to clear my head; but my thoughts are too clogged with distractions. What to do? Thankfully, I have two dogs who recognized I needed to get out and refresh my mind. One went and sat obediently by the closet door, showing me where her leash is. The other kept nudging me, whimpering and begging me to stop being so foolish and just go outside. It was a gray November day, but surprisingly warm for the lack of sun; so I put on my coat and we headed out. Just watching them sniff and run through the leaves cheered my thoughts, and before I knew it their interest in fallen foliage had attracted me as well. I slowed my pace, stopping to look at the varying shapes and colors, observing the hints of moss peeking through the layers of mulch. The tiny shrubs valiantly clung to their leaves, in unusual shades and patterns. Normally I would have zipped by them all, trying to get a power walk in while the dogs ran around; but today, they also slowed down, taking time to turn over logs and dig through beds of leaves for scents of deer or rabbits. I picked up two leaves to admire the differences in size and shape, and almost immediately I began collecting them.

  Did you ever notice how many different shapes and sizes Oak leaves come in?

 Or how many shades of brown? Dark, light, golden, rust, tawny and olive are just a few versions I found.

These are all in yellowish tones.

  And what about red? Burgundy, orange, magenta, peach and even some I might classify as pink. Who knew?

I think these qualify as shades of black.

  And then there are these leaves, which couldn’t make up their minds. One even caught my eye as it had almost every color of the rainbow on it. It was laying off to the side of the trail, under some dried grasses. I would never have noticed it if I was not already alert to leaf watching.

  Finally, there are the stubborn ones. The ones who fight against the bitter reality that winter is coming, the days are getting too short to produce chlorophyll and soon it will be very cold. Kudos to them!

So with a bag full of leaves, I headed home and spent  an hour arranging them in various snapshots and editing them for today’s post. Leaf collecting turned out to be a great way to clear my mind and be creative. I advise everyone to step out of their busy routines and retreat to some simple, physical activity. This is a stressful time of year and we all need to find a way to relax.

I just want to thank my wonderful dogs for reminding me of that and for taking me out for walks every day.

Ebony

Cooper

A Fun Finale to Fall

   The last of the golden brown oak leaves are fluttering down in the warm breeze. That means it is time for another favorite fall tradition: raking leaves. But not just the raking part… the place we rake them is in front of the swing set. We gather the leaves from a long radius around the swing set and shape them into a giant fluffy pile. Once we have collected as many as we can, the kids take turns swinging high on the swing set and then jump off, spinning through the air and landing in the cushioned pile. They then fluff the pile up and do it again. What could be more fun?

  

I have to admit, I have taken a few turns too. But I really prefer to walk through the crunchy leaves, swishing them under my feet or admiring the layers of color.

  

I look for signs of sumac and golden rod, still putting out a brilliant display until the end. The dogs love running through the leaves too, sniffing for deer tracks, moles or bones hiding underneath.

But I hear the wind picking up, whistling through the nearly empty branches. I feel the temperature rapidly drop as the cold front moves in.

Our last days of Indian summer have passed. As I watch the clouds build up, I finish pruning my dried flower stalks and pack my bulbs in a bin full of fluffy leaves. I pull my sweatshirt around me tightly as I watch the kids take a few more leaps into the pile. Tomorrow I will need to wear a warmer coat.