Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Sorry guys, but my noggin is a bit sludged up at the moment, and messages across my brain synapses are travelling by dog-paddled canoe instead of by a flaming arrow. I’m fine,  just tired and still coming down from the play on Wednesday. I’m having a spot of trouble putting sentences together. so I’m going to stop trying.  Before I go, though, I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite quotes by the inimitable John Steinbeck.  Travels with Charley is the story of Steinbeck’s crossing of America in a custom-made camper set on the bed of a pick-up truck. His traveling companion Charley is his dog, a standard poodle.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
         

                    ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

 

 

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Yesterday and friend and I went on a bus trip to see the Musical “Anastasia” at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, and it was spectacular. The sets themselves were sparse with projected background images that contained animated elements. I found that they gave enough info about place and time, yet didn’t take your attention away from the action on stage. The costumes were breathtaking, and there was lots of singing and dancing. The music itself was pleasing, and the story moved along at a good pace. The first half of the play took place in St. Petersburg in 1917 and was a glimpse into Anastasia’s life. The second act took place in Paris 10 years later with the only surviving Romanov, the Dowager Empress, looking for her lost granddaughter Anastasia. I won’t give too much away, because it is worth seeing if you have the chance, but I will say that the Russian Revolution was glossed over. The play is about the mystery of the surviving Anastasia, and the revolution that destroyed her family is noted quickly with gunfire and people fleeing, but it’s mostly kept as a background element.

It made for a fun day out, but it was overstimulating and disrupted my sleep, so today, I’m tired, kinda cranky and craving quiet. Jack wanted a bit of excitement, though, so I reluctantly got up and took him to the Frog Pond trail. We don’t go there often because there are tons of mosquitos, and it gets quite muddy, but things are frozen today, so it seemed safe. And it was perfect, quiet and peaceful for me and full of unusual, new smells for Jack.  That’s a big win-win for a tired, theatre-loving voyager who didn’t want to venture out at all today. It’s one of the many beneficial reasons why it’s good to have a dog… they make you get up and do things that are healthy and rejuvenating. Thanks, Jack. I feel better now.

 

Jack’s Walk

A new friend for Jack? ©voyager, all rights reserved

When we walk around our neighbourhood during the day, Jack and I have a regular route. We walk up to the high school, then down toward the park and then loop around back to the far end of our own street and then it’s a straight line to home again. This route is Jack’s choice because it gives him the best chance of getting a few love pats along the way. The walk takes us past his teenaged fan club and the home of his best dog friend, Leo. It also allows me to avoid problems because I know where all the other dogs live along the route. Most dogs are friendly and get along well with Jack, but there are one or two exceptions. There’s a Jack Russell at the end of our block who strains at his leash snarling and barking at Jack madly. We only know him as “Shut-up you bastard,” but I’m sure he has another name. I’d stop to ask except he won’t stop barking long enough to speak to his person, a frail elderly man who likes to holler. There’s also Izzy, a pug, who wants to challenge Jack. Jack picked him up once and spat him out again, without injury I should add, but it only made Izzy more determined to get Jack. So now, we always cross the street to avoid him. Izzy has a great person named Linda who Jack and I both like, but she understands that Izzy has issues and always controls him from her side of the street. Recently, though, neighbours a few blocks down have gotten a new dog, and it barks at us every day no matter what time we go by. It’s always at the window, I imagine because his people work and he is watching for them. The new dog not only barks, but he jumps around a lot, occasionally banging into the window. Jack says he wants to be friends and tells me that we should knock on their door one evening to meet him when his people are at home. I think we should wait until spring, when the new dog is more settled and we can meet casually outdoors. I tell Jack that not everyone wants a voyager at their door with an 85-pound hairy goofball, asking if their dog can come out to play. Jack says he can’t understand why, and furrow’s his brow at me. Sheesh, alright, Bubba! Maybe I’ll go alone to take them a few Christmas cookies and check the situation out. If they’re agreeable, perhaps I’ll take Jack for a playdate. I think the new dog does look like a fun sort of fellow, just look at that smile, and its barking and antics do seem more playful than aggressive. Who knows, maybe Leo has some competition for the title of Jack’s Best Friend?

Jack’s Walk

Bubba’s growing hair like a buffalo.

Today, Jack and I encountered a new danger with the ice. Instead of worrying about falling on the ice, today, we were worried about the ice falling on us. It’s a bit above zero today, and all the ice on the trees is starting to melt and let go. Throughout our entire walk, we heard the ice cracking overhead and saw pieces of ice fall around us. Twice I was hit in the head with small pieces, and by the time we got home, I was getting nervous that a more substantial chunk might get me. Even Jack was getting a bit antsy, which surprised me. Typically, Jack is calm about things falling around him. Once, in the kitchen, I dropped a large pot full of cold water and carrots right beside him. It made a colossal clatter, and water and carrot pieces flew around Jack like a cartoon explosion. It was theatrically spectacular, and it made me jump, but  Jack didn’t flinch. Nope, instead, he waited a second or two and then started to eat the carrots closest to him. He said he was helping me clean-up. So a few bits of ice falling are nothing compared to that. Perhaps he’s just used to things falling in the kitchen. It often happens, although not usually on the scale of dropping an entire pot, but Jack knows that the kitchen is a place where things unexpectedly fall. Things falling outdoors is unusual and kinda strange, and mummy doesn’t like it. Even though my leash handling doesn’t change, Jack can feel all my shit through the leash, and I vice versa. It’s part of how we talk to each other. So, I knew Bubba was feeling a bit on edge. At about the halfway point of our walk around the neighbourhood, we sped up as much as the ice beneath our feet would allow. And we were both grateful when we spied our own home ahead of us. We made it safely, although our own birch tree dropped a cascade of ice beside us on our way past it. This made me extra grateful because I was worried that this graceful, slender tree would lose branches with the ice, and it hasn’t. So far.

All in all, it’s good to be home. Jack wants to make cookies, and it does seem like a good day to bake. You’ll know to find us in the place where good things drop unexpectedly.

Jack’s Walk

Early December Morning, ©voyager, all rights reserved

 

We had a gentle, light dusting of snow this morning, and it was just enough to make the world look fresh and pretty for a while. That’s one of the things I like about winter, the way that snow covers a landscape with a coat of crisp, clean stillness. Ogden Nash says it much better than me, though, so I’ll let him.

 

Winter Morning Poem

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

– Ogden Nash