Dog and Other Walks

My daughter brought Rufus home for Thanksgiving and when she flies back to California later today, he will remain with me. Molly will return for Christmas and will bring him back to his west coast life in January. Meanwhile I have the pleasure and responsibility of taking care of this sweet dog.

Rufus smiling

While I haven’t missed his 6 AM demand that I take him out, I don’t hate being forced to see the sunrise. While he angles his leg towards the hedge to pee, I yawn and look up at the sky. This morning the sky was glorious – a deep navy blue in the west as night moved out and a glowing yellow of a new day in the east.

Getting outside also gets me out of my head when I am more inclined to retreat to full hibernation mode. Especially in winter, I get lazy and I don’t love the cold and there have already been days when I barely step out of the house. That’s not good. Even a short walk around the neighborhood gives me a spark of energy along with a fix of fresh oxygen. Having Rufus around with his multiple required outings each day, reminds me that I need to fan these sparks into flames.

Rather than letting the days simply pass, I want to savor each as precious. Even the physical movement of opening the door changes the energy, creates an atmospheric shift reminding me that I am part of something bigger than myself. Walking through the neighborhood, exchanging a few words with a neighbor or venturing down to the river to note the tide and maybe glimpse the great blue heron who seems to be wintering nearby, all give me a sense of well-being.

Stepping outdoors with no other intent than to follow this pup around in his wander, no matter how self absorbed I was minutes earlier, the wind against my cheek, light in my eyes, crunch of leaves under my feet, keeps me present.

Rufus surveying the estate

It’s not that I don’t go for walks when Rufus isn’t here. I’m pretty disciplined about getting up and out and there are advantages to doing this solo. While I like the purpose a dog brings, walks alone are easier. Without him, I walk at my own pace instead of being pulled along, stopping abruptly so he can sniff every few feet. Alone, I can drive the 10 minutes to the beach and walk where dogs aren’t allowed but the views are spectacular. I do like the freedom of not having a pet – but I miss the rituals, the weight of him on my lap, his sweet devotion.

No, I do not want to adopt another dog right now. But I do love having him visit and I do love him. But right now I am learning who this new me is that need only take care of myself and it’s very interesting and a little luxurious. Today it is rainy and Rufus, not a fan of getting wet, won’t want to venture further than the yard to do the necessary. I may just have to leave him at home and go for a walk by myself. (Or not!)

Pets or no pets?

Ruminations on the Holidays and a Retail Life

This year I received a pin marking my 15th year working for my company. How lucky am I to have a job I love for all of these years? It’s just around this time of year – working in a store is tough. Look – if I won the lottery today I’d still work through the holiday season rather than leave my dear colleagues in the lurch. But I would be joyous – not only because of my great winnings (I have a rich fantasy life) but because, it would be my last. Fifteen years of my 17 year old daughter’s life around the holidays, have been experienced through the prism of me in retail insanity. I mostly come home exhausted and full of bah-hum-bug, a grouchy cookie baker, reluctant to listen to yet more Christmas music. Poor kid.

Don’t get me wrong — there are parts of the madness I love. It’s great to have the bookstore bustling with energy, readers delighting in discovering new books. What I don’t enjoy is the sense of exaggerated emergency that seems to linger like a frost from ‘Black Friday’ until New Year’s. It’s like everyone has imbibed too much coffee. This year, that amped-up feeling seems even more intense around here because of Sandy the hurricane, everyone is scrambling, anxiety twisting our gut.

I hate that feeling. And I wonder why I am susceptible to it? I have lived through real emergencies and know to my core that not being able to get the right book on time hardly counts as one. This manic-mode is not necessary, nor even helpful – yet, here I go again.

But not yet. Today is Thanksgiving and — I do give thanks. After roasting vegetables, making another pie, stuffing, cranberry sauce and green beans, the three of us will walk across the street to celebrate with our dear friends. I’ll do my best to hang on to the sweetness of this shared celebration – to seize this day as the start of a busy, but mellow and joyous holiday season. Because who knows – I still might win the lottery.