The Afternoon of Take a Hike!

trees

He’s been a good dog
My best friend right through it all
If I die before I wake, feed Jake

Feed Jake by the Pirates of the Mississippi

 

Hike. Hike. Hike.

Why did I think driving an hour from home to launch myself into the woods would be a good thing? Do I look like Thoreau? I wonder what Thoreau looked like. I doubt somehow he was a 5’3” woman with freckles and red hair with a penchant for turning red-faced at the slightest provocation. Or maybe he did turn red at provocations and that’s why he decided to spend a year by himself. Right about now, a year by myself, not thinking about Dominic seems like a good idea.

The woods seem to tremble as something crashes through the underbrush. Bear. A bear! I’m sure it must be a bear. I look around in panic at woods and more woods and the scraggly little trail that leads through even more woods.

“Don’t panic. Don’t run.” I decide to hide behind a tree. Should I close my eyes? I tightly squeeze my eyes shut and then feel something on my foot.

I’m about to be eaten by a bear. I look down, expecting to see a fierce huge mammal but instead I see a little gold dog that’s wagging its tail so hard that it looks like its butt might fall off.

“Aren’t you just a cutie?” I ask as I kneel down and start cooing. I’m rewarded by a lick across my face.

A burly guy appears wearing a green-plaid flannel shirt and a wool hat with ear flaps even though the day’s warm. “Ain’t that nice. You got a dog, now.”

I shake my head. “No, he doesn’t belong to me. He just appeared.”

“It’s a she and she belongs to you now.”

“No, she doesn’t. I don’t know where her owner is.”

“She didn’t have one before you. Now she’s got you. Take good care of her. She’s fifteen weeks old and housebroken. You’re welcome.” And then he just disappears into the woods. He didn’t even take the trail.

“Mister!” I yell after him and then look at the puppy who gives no indication of following the man. Instead she’s looking up at me with a smile on her face.

So cute! “But I can’t keep you. I live in an apartment and I work . . .”

She flattens herself on the packed leaves, places her chin on her front paws and just gazes up at me while her tail thumps against the dry leaves.

I think for a moment and then pat her on the head. “Let’s call you Shenandoah, but Shandy for short. You’re kind of the color of shandy, aren’t you? What do you think?”

She stands up and barks and then trots along the trail toward the car. I wonder how she knows.

 

end 9/20/2016

S. Darlington

 

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