Saturday, June 18, 2011

“A Walk in the Park”

Live Oak City Park--Spring 2010

            On Wednesday, I donned my new pair of walking/running shoes and headed out the door before the blacktop started to blister with heat. My goal? Thirty minutes to myself that I’m carving out of the mornings while David prepares for work. He offered to tend to Mom’s morning needs while I’m out. The first day, I returned in triumph. I ran the entire way to the park without a single complaint from a very old knee injury. The new shoes make a huge difference in how I distribute my weight. Yesterday, I felt as jubilant as my knee took another short run. However, when I came back home, Bridget caught a whiff of the park on my shoes and clothes. She looked hurt and disappointed that I didn’t include her on my walk. Today, when I perched on the bed to tie my shoes, she danced around my feet, leapt upon the bed, and gave me a lathering lick. Her sleek black body pressed against me while her expression said, “Walk! Walk! Walk! Walk! Walk!”

            My original plan, to have time to myself each morning before the day begins, evaporated when I realized that Bridget, too, has had to make adjustments over the last couple of years. Her status of “Only Dog” changed when Koi joined our household eighteen months ago. Then her daily walks vanished seven months ago when Mom moved in with us. I realized that she needed some special time, too. Koi began barking incessantly when he heard me tell Bridget to get her leash. It didn’t take him but a second to realize that we girls were having an outing. Bridget scrambled out the front door so quickly that I barely latched it behind us.

            We ran the entire way to the park. One good thing about walking with Bridget—the pace she keeps. I kicked up my heart rate in no time. Now, when I go to the park alone, I stay on the road. When I have Bridget with me, we head cut across the drainage ditch and head straight for the trails. Today we took our shorter route by ducking under the trees, coming up on a trail, skirting the outer edge of the park, clamoring over the small bridge, and meandering around the lake’s edge.

            Bridget paused only a few times on our trek. First, she stood at attention when we came upon six deer chomping breakfast. Next, she stilled when three cottontail rabbits scurried ahead of us and dove for cover into the brittle brush. She pointed at the two tanned and muscular men playing disc golf, and she sniffed butts with the weenie dog over by the lake. The entire walk Bridget hit the zone—that place of doggy bliss where head sways gently as nose enjoys every familiar scent while searching for something new.

            Today, I couldn’t help but notice the effects of the drought upon the park. The grass looks burnt and brittle, the ground cracked and hardened like old leather, and the lake pulled back from her shores. Every tree seemed to protest the heat and dryness. Only the lily pads appeared happy as they floated in the shade. A loan fisherman cast his line from the pier, but I bet he won’t get a bite because the fish hunker near the center of the lake where the water’s coolest. In my mind’s eye, I visualized the greener days at our park and hope the prospect of rain appears on our horizon sooner, rather than later.

            Before I realized it, Bridget and I hit the pavement and our route home began. Tonight, my brother arrives. Tomorrow, David and Koi will join Bridget and me as we take another walk in the park.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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