Today I read other people’s slices before I took McGee for his morning constitutional.
Inspired by a very observant clothesline spy, I decide that I shall do some observing while I walk.. I figure that I might not find a story, but I will at least exercise my watchfulness and perhaps gather some seeds.
The first thing I notice as I leave the house at 6:27 a.m. EDT is that the sky is light on the horizon in the east. That’s a relief, because if it were in the west, then I would be REALLY late for work. I note that this is an improvement over last week when #$^%ing Daylight Savings Time made us walk in the dark again. We head down my street, just as flashlight man turns the corner a block ahead of us. He wears an orange reflective vest (smart…in the safety sense) over his winter coat, and he glances back once, appearing nervous. It must be quite dark for someone to be nervous because of us. Looking to either side, I note which houses are completely dark (lucky left side of the street), and which have only a few lights on. I feel bad for the high school kid who has to get up before her parents. I think that’s the case in #51.
I’ve left the house a little late this morning, so I am taking rather long strides to make up time. McGee does not lengthen his strides as he leads me down the block. Instead his tiny feet beneath his substantial torso- (It really is substantial. Is that fat or just the excessive winter fur that will soon adorn all of our furniture? Some observations, I notice, lead to questions, and those questions can lead me off course on my watchful walk. That’s a downside to being hyper-observant) just move really fast. That was a really long parenthetical interlude. I apologize if anyone got lost trying to navigate the sentence.
As I turn the corner, I notice an enormous pile of branches that looks something like what you see along the banks of a recently flooded river. In this case, it is the work of a snow plow that has pushed both snow and downed branches and left them in a pile at the end of the driveway of that young couple with the Volvo and the Honda and the new baby. The snow has nearly melted, but the branches haven’t. Interesting. Apparently they have a different melting point. Could be a discovery! I stow it for later consideration and perhaps experimentation.
As I turn another corner onto Osborne, McGee waters his fourth mailbox, When available, he prefers a good snow pile, but most have melted (see melting point observation above). We continue due east. I avert my eyes as I pass the newly-occupied McMansion on the tiny lot. The occupant, who drives a dark-colored BMW, has yet to purchase curtains, and he apparently dresses in front of a window at around 6:32 a.m. I checked (the time, that is).
I notice that I have a habit of spitting on these walks. I realize this is not a very couth activity (why is uncouth acceptable to my spellchecker, but couth not? Wouldn’t one think that the positive word came before the “un” version? An exception, of course, would be the unicorn, which clearly preceded the rare and exotic icorn). Perhaps my expectorating is an attempt to keep up with McGee’s output. I learned to spit well in third grade when I started playing baseball. Before that, it would probably have been described as drooling. Along with applying eye black, spitting is one of the most important baseball skills, not unlike the canine skill of lifting the rear leg. I can hear my third grade teacher scolding me. “Spitting is a nasty habit,” Mrs. Inada reminds me, from deep in my past, ” It spreads germs. Can you imagine what the sidewalk would look like if everyone who used it was spitting all the time?” She’s right. I try to curb my spitting for the rest of the walk.
We pass a curious stone bench that I hadn’t spied before. It’s on a street corner in a likely spot for sitting, but there’s a large tree branch hanging about six inches over the seat, leaving about enough headroom for a squirrel to sit, if he slouches. McGee marks it. I resist the urge to spit.
This is the point where I usually pass speed-walking woman. She walks very rapidly, taking small, but businesslike steps, sometimes talking on her phone (at 6:37 a.m., with whom is she talking?). She doesn’t ever say hello (to me. I assume she says hello to the person on the phone). Actually, never mind hello, she never even looks toward us. This offends McGee, who expects to be admired by passers by. Zoom, she’s by, like a car at Indy. Not much for me to observe there, especially since today she’s, in fact, not there. I hope she’s okay.
I head up the hill into the land of the condos. There’s a Big Little truck picking up a dumpster. That’s not a contradictory observation, if you were thinking that. Big Little is the name of the company that collects the garbage. I don’t name ’em, I just observe ’em. I can’t make out any of the items in the trash or what the workers are wearing. For the record, though, the truck is big.
McGee and I sidestep the mountain of snow that the plows conveniently placed on the sidewalk. It hasn’t melted yet (the snow, not the sidewalk), so we have to detour into the street to get around it. McGee tries to accelerate the melting process, if you catch my drift. Contribution number 16. As we head to the downhill section, we’re venturing into the darkest part of the journey. No streetlights for the next hundred yards. Only the light of my headlamp pushes back the gloom. McGee slows down, but he’s not esscared, Just wary. Before we get past the dark woods and the fire swamp, a car approaches from the west. MeGee veers toward the car. I’ve noticed that he tends to do this. I’m thinking this is an instinct that, although friendly, goes against that evolution stuff. I tug him back. “I’ll be substituting for evolution today, McGee.” We scan the road to see if Nancy and Boo have started their walk. No sign of them. The eastern sky continues to brighten, lighting our path as we head for home.
This walk hasn’t yielded much in the way of groundbreaking discoveries, but I am satisfied that we have exercised our muscles and our eyes. I glance at my Fitbit. “McGee,” I say, “That was 2845 steps for a man, one giant slice for mankind.” Unimpressed by the pompous speech, McGee lifts his leg for the 19th time. “Pee’s out, Dad.”