Early Morning Rambles
After a school year where I scheduled three lives into one, I decided to spend time enjoying my backyard and the surrounding sections. One of my summer goals included rising early for an hour of walking, observing, and thinking.
I don’t know about anyone else in the house, but my dogs loved this plan. The older dog joined me for a “short” hike around the drive—a mile for me and three for him after he chases rabbits and marks an astonishing assortment of weeds and grasses. Looking at the world through his eyes, I see an abundance of cottontails and small rodents. While his eyesight is excellent, his nose is not particularly sharp, so pheasants often surprise him when they erupt skyward.
After he enjoys his turn around the pasture, I exchange walking buddies. The little female waits patiently at with her nose pressed against the front window until she sees us returning. Then her hunting dog blood percolates. She barely contains herself as I let the older dog in and turn her loose for a longer ramble.
After spinning “donuts” in the sandy drive to show me she’s happy about this sunrise adventure, we amble onto whichever road suits our mood. Nearby, a male mockingbird sitting in a roadside cedar comments musically on our journey. A bright red cardinal perching in a nearby hackberry joins his chorus. If I weren’t trailing a dog with her nose practically glued to invisible scents covering the road and ditches, watching those two birds competing in song would derail my journey.
Early is the operative word here. These walks must begin no later than seven to relish the morning. The cool air or maybe the need to find breakfast brings out critters I don’t see later in the day.
My favorite walk involves a hike south to the section line, where we turn west. From there, I can see Riga and, under perfect conditions, Ogallah. To the north, a dark line of trees marks Big Creek’s winding path. Beyond, cars and trucks snake east and west along Interstate. To the south, Round Mound highlights the trail for travelers.
At this turning point, I can easily believe I am at the center of the universe where heaven’s great blue bowl unites the horizon line in a giant circle. Standing there, I think of Per Hansa’s wife Beret in Giants in the Earth. I wonder why she feared this vast openness so greatly it affected her sanity. She could see all the world had to offer from any direction. Perhaps seeing so much of that world frightened her. Despite Beret’s reservations about open prairie, I feel delight and reverence as I absorb that view.
Discovering one’s neighborhood, including humans, beasts, birds, plants, landscape, and sky merits anyone’s time. Meeting them through the eyes and noses of two very different dogs allows a vantage point I would miss if I walked alone.