Author: humbleswede

A Walk in the Dark

Morning light is getting a bit more scarce these days.  We usually take Farley for his morning constitutional  somewhere around 6:42.  I know, that 6:42 doesn’t sound like a time that comes after the words “somewhere around,” but I’ve lived in Connecticut, the land of steady habits, for over 35 years, so, yeah, 6:42, give or take a few seconds.

The problem is that although a 6;42 walk is very pleasant for much of the year, in late October, before the clock changes, it becomes a walk in the dark.

With our old dogs, that meant me wearing a headlamp and one of those fashionable reflective vests. I was willing to take the fashion hit so that stampeding deer knew I wasn’t a shrub…and, I suppose, so that frantic commuters didn’t drive  over me as they raced to the train station. I worried a bit about the dogs, though, as both wore permanent black coats that rendered them invisible.  Unfortunately neither would tolerate any sort of reflective gear.

Sadly neither one is with us anymore.  Oh, no, they never had a walking accident.  Sorry if I gave that impression.  I was just leading to the fact that they are no longer with us, and we now have our pandemic puppy, who, because the pandemic has such staying power, is now a Pandemic Full-Grown Dog (which is a lot less catchy).  He’s coming up on his second birthday, and might be in need of a new identity.  

One of the many great qualities of our furry friend Farley is that he is also a fearless fashionista.  He gladly wore the bow tie that my student gave him for Moving Up Day two springs ago.  He had no problems with the saddle and stuffed bronco rider he bore last Halloween.  He enjoys his Washington Capitals jersey (even though, he actually doesn’t find hockey compelling.  He much prefers Triple D and the Great British Bake Off…but I’m digressing).  So, it should not have surprised me that Farley was perfectly agreeable when Nancy presented him with his very own reflective vest. 

Not only did he not object to the vest, he actually let Nancy know that he enjoys it. He prefers to think of it as a cape…as in something a superhero might sport.  Yesterday was our first officially dark morning, so, we got ready a little earlier and thus,  at 6:42, we stepped onto our front doorstep, Nancy with her reflective vest, me with both vest and  headlamp, and mild-mannered Farley, sporting his bright orange “cape.” He had instantly transformed into Safety Dog, that dapper superhero, able to protect us from talking skeletons (as long as they don’t move),  vicious bunnies, (as long as they run the other way), angry, white lapdogs (as long as they’re on a leash), and oncoming commuters (as long as they see us first).  

Cue “Safety Dance.”  Adventure season has begun.

Into Their Eyes

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, having had another dream about debating with The Donald.  It was my second in the past two weeks.   I really resent that he can show up uninvited like that.  I will say that he didn’t do much talking.  He mostly watched me as I did the shouting, the ranting really, about how real human beings should act. He merely made sneering faces and mocking gestures. I woke up shaking.

Anyhow, it was 2:15, and I was very awake, so I headed downstairs for a glass of water and decided that finishing the book I’d been reading this weekend might calm me down.  It was a great antidote.  The book, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise had been recommended by our school’s librarian.  I can’t thank her enough for that tip.  

The cross-country grief journey of a father and daughter who’d lost their wife/mom and daughters/sisters couldn’t possibly be the uplifting counterpoint to a nightmarish encounter with that orange man…but it was.  It was (conveniently) all about what it means to be human.  Coyote, the 12-year-old narrator with the wisdom of an 80-year-old, is trying to reclaim her memories. It’s a wild and crazy quest. Toward the end, in a moment of desperation, as she clashes with an immovable opponent, she summons the words of her father:

“But then I remembered Rodeo [her father].  I remembered how he talked to folks.  How he didn’t raise his voice, but talked soft.  He talked right into their eyes.  Person to person.  Always kindness, Coyote [the narrator].”

Coyote imparted so many bits of wisdom in this story, but this one seemed so right for our time and our world.  We need softer talk.  More eye-to-eye contact.  More person to person conversations.

Maybe tonight I’ll have a do-over in dreamland.  Maybe tonight I’ll channel the wisdom of a 12-year-old and in that world behind my eyelids, I’ll try to talk into his eyes.