Posted by: 2russ | May 12, 2011

"I’m a Substitute for another guy…." The Who – 1960s rock group

Hello Human, Let’s Go!

 Sub Notes for The Regular Dog Walker, or January Remembrances in case you forget what January is like, when it is May

          Today I subbed for the regular dog walker.  It started out rather slowly. Right away though, we came across another dog being walked.  I didn’t stop to ask if the person was a sub, too.  But instinctively we parted our dogs.  Chances are two subs wouldn’t have done that, so she must have been an owner, or at least a regular dog walker!  There was no hedge or natural barrier and no Red Sea, so we parted to opposite sides of the road.  I think the other person was the owner though.  The dog was wolfish, and barked.  Nothing much happened next. I went to check out the house that my friend is going to rent.  Couldn’t see much! All the blinds were drawn, and no one was living there.

Next we saw four male Mallards and their hens on the inlet of the back bay; the water that is parted from the sea by the road.  They were beautiful and it made me start looking for more birds.  One Mallard male was walking on water, but it turned out to be ice that he was on.  We crossed to their side of the road and of course we were quiet.  But no matter!  They sensed us!  They flew up!  Seven of them!  The one on ice didn’t get a clue that he had no traction, neither at the first, nor during take-off.  He had no glue.

My thoughts turned to exercise and I thought that if I could get a hill climb in on my 10,000 steps this day, that it would really benefit me.  So we headed for the hill.  Still, we looked for birds, though I think my charge is not a bird-dog!

On the left was a Great Blue Heron.  He was still. The heron was perfectly still, quiet, motionless! Also he was in the distance!  But he was real and alive and not a plastic ornament. Just one blue heron!  Hunting! Now I thought: “Well, two for two on the sightings scale so far.”  Hmmm!

Up the hill we went, and a bright-in-the-sunshine Stellar Jay was there in a tree.  It flew across the road to another tree.  Just one Stellar!  Now, they are every bit as beautiful in size and color and profile and shape as the other blue birds.  But we don’t like them.  We want Western Bluebirds or Mountain Bluebirds, not Stellar Jays.  I guess it’s because of their less than stellar behavior.  They’re bad actors and they squawk.   We walked.

Quite soon a constellation or I thought, a “galaxy” of starlings, like a microcosm of stars, whooshed across our route.  Each bird was like an individual comet speeding, yet all were like a Flash Mob, (one of those sudden eruptions of a city mass sit-in in the city to protest something on a moments notice by cell phone or twitter notice).   I think they were starlings with a vagus nerve approach to living that you could feel in your shins.  They moved with a pack mentality in a willy-nilly wave!  This is a bonus bird day, already!

We were thinking that by the time we got to the top, our hard work would be over.  I guess it mainly was.  Of course there had been several plays at vanity from house dogs or yard dogs, with their barks and advances reaching right to the boundary of their territory.  Each vain bark, or thrust in vain, was not enough to deter our advance, as there was no open hatch for them to come into our space.

Things were going along well on this walk.  Subbing was pretty easy.  Just occasional things would happen.  Two cars went by, but really it was only one that went by twice.  It was completing its route.  The lady driver was on her cell phone while passing us.  I’m sure there was much going on there!

It was when we got to the house where the signs said PRODUCE and EGGS that I looked up to see two crows, different ones in two different trees, or each one in their own tree, if you prefer.  Crows are intelligent birds I’ve heard.  I wondered what was going on with them! I started to think that this is going to be a high bird sighting day, and I was hoping for an eagle sighting, but I’d already passed the main eagle area.  As I walked down the grade, I looked for cows and imagined being rushed by a bull, but then thought better of that idea.  But there, on the road, (and on our side of the road), was a bold singular bird holding its ground.  A mere twenty feet away, it didn’t move.

It finally flew.  I thought that its small size and auburn coated breast made it a fine specimen.  It was not a Robin!  It flew across the road,  and there I saw the field – all rain soaked and drenched with about thirty of these same little birds.  He had been a mere stray for a moment or so.   In the hedge of brambles was a Nuthatch that was himself quite beautiful and smaller than the august friend that had challenged us.  A few years ago, at this very area a Chinese Ring –Necked Pheasant had fired a slant route salvo across my bow, or should I say my brow!  His power flight made a vortex and a wind noise, he had been so close.

The walk now opened up to pasture, meadow and field.  There was an ever advancing vista and I could see the Mountain and its Sister Mountains.  The White, but sometimes we called this the pink mountain.  This morning it may have been, pink.  I wasn’t there in the early morning. The sunrise was fiery and Fuscia colored though. Now I started getting musical.  “Red sky in morning; Sailor take warning!”

Then, I looked up!  I thought: “Well I’m looking over toward the city, and far, far away that could be a military Black Hawk helicopter, or a raptor vulture, or a fixed wing plane.  But, happily, it swerved; and swooping, I could see that it was closer than in the city!  This was a bird of prey and it was catching a thermal uplift and was just soaring and soaring.  But, would it come my way?  So, I decided that we should stop.  Perhaps with our stillness and reverence, we could will it, and woo it, to glide our way.

 We turned toward the North, where it was.  For a while things were looking promising.  I felt the cold air.  It was sunny.  But cold.  In fact it was not cold, it was frigid!  I told someone that this isn’t cold weather because it’s a “dry” cold.  It was dry because of the Arctic blast of either High pressure or Low pressure.  It was whichever one is responsible for bringing in dry, frigid air.  And that is what we had got.  I don’t know if the dog saw the raptor.  But we waited together. Then, our bird of prey sailed farther North beyond a stand of Douglas fir trees and out of sight.

We kept going and soon we were attacked stage right by the triumvirate!  Three rat looking terriers, which, if larger looked like they could have eaten us.  But to them we must have looked like giant rats ourselves!  We were much too big to deal with, much less make a meal with!  Luckily their gates and fences kept them from our theater, and we walked on, picked up our gait, and achieved our quickest meter.

Cascading down an elevation, I could see a ferry on the water.  Soon, a school was in sight as well.  We were in luck, for dogs like children and the opposite is also true!  It was recess and the sound of children filled the air.  It was the Elementary School. But the children were far from us and very engrossed in their activity of elemental play at recess.  And children, I thought are elemental; they suggest the powerful force at work inside all of us. Elementariness and the future go together, I thought.  I was amazed that four children could be mesmerized by one soccer ball.  I thought:  that’s economical!  Then, I saw a fifth.  He was all the way to the other end of the field.  In a goal posted area.  A hundred feet away.  He was the fifth.  No one was talking to him, he was waiting, waiting.  Then, out of the building seven or eight or nine third graders came running with classroom kites.  More like drags or plows, but kites that would fly if they ran fast enough and pulled them, which the children attempted.  Some not successfully.   Then, on the other side of a building, more kids with kites, or some on swings, or some with nothing at all – played  at recess.    There were older grade kids in leadership of the younger ones, and by no means were there 50 or even 40 children at play.  “Must be they stagger their recess,” I thought.  It’s such a small school, too.

We turned the corner.  I’m not going to tell you how many of us were dog-walking, or our names as dog and walker, but we turned the corner.  This is a very private job.  It is important to not lose the dog or injure the dog, (or injure anyone or any other dog, or cat).  We had to stay off the road when there was traffic.  In other words, I had to be quite responsible.  We were “on leash.”  Sometimes the old dog pulled his head out of his  collar.  He has lost weight.

As we were walking, we saw the ferry again!  Then, we heard the big water.  It seemed bigger than the already mentioned sea behind us, because we were closer to it, and there was wind and there were waves from the ferry and it was busier.   We came upon an area that seemed scooped out by a giant.  It was a sort of scalloped out area, as if a giant with a giant sauce spoon had taken to the corner of a casserole and scooped out dinner.  This hollow was full of a tide, which even added to the casserole effect, with ripples and a wavy sauce, I thought.  We still had the city to go; the downtown part of town lay ahead on the walk.

The traffic was low and it was quiet. I heard seagulls; here and there were ducks you could hear and cormorants you could see and on it went.  We passed by a house that had a badge out front.  Then I realized that I too had one of those badges – out front – in front of my house!  For the life of me I couldn’t think from whom I had earned this badge.  It is the sort of honor bestowed for doing something to rescue marine mammals, or for nurturing a habitat, or for repairing a watershed or a riparian area.  Certainly I’ve dug clams for research projects, but that was not a project that rewarded this badge.  This emblem is not as much of an award as it is a confirmed promissory note, where you promise to do environmental good in the future, which of course I will! It’s not that I won’t!  And certainly it’s not that I would do anything contrary to the environment.  Vigilance and valiance!  That would be my axiom.  I just couldn’t remember being an emergency man anytime in recent history to deserve the hallowed plaque!

By now, we’d turned the bend and as we headed for home, I was sad in thinking about the plight of others.  We were nearly home.  I was sad in thinking about people.  I know we all owe God a death at our end.  But this is not the end!  And this is not my end, now. We passed another few fir branches dislodged from their trunks due to a recent wind storm.  I n fact, we had gone by limbs, large parts of trees, that were haphazardly sprawled about on various green spaces aside our road way.  I’d forgotten about those things I’d seen earlier on our walk.  We saw no deer.

The deer are not near this year.  They must be content on the mountain, foraging on a branches feast.  For, we haven’t seen them, although I know they are here.

We have basically completed this errand.  The dog’s back and eating like crazy!

I hope you get to substitute dog walk sometime.  Not much really happened on this walk.  In fact, you might come back from a walk sometime and be asked:  “What happened on your walk?”  And you might reply:  “Oh, not much, really, nothing!”

I hope you get to have a dog walk soon.  But if you ever get bored, ask to SUBSTITUTE DOG WALK!

There’s nothing like it!

1/31/2011.


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