Saturday, March 20, 2010

Simple Gifts

Yesterday evening, taking advantage of the lengthened sunlight thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I took our dog, Sam, for a walk in the neighborhood. I can remember quite well my first walk with him about two years ago, while I was in my early days of courting Kathy (she got him when he was a puppy). I had not experienced a dog very much since I was a boy in Kansas, and since all our pets lived outdoors most of the time, I never took them for walks. Walking a dog is an interesting practice in allowing and letting be.

Sam is a Golden Doodle, a mix of golden retriever and poodle, and while he has the nobility, intelligence, memory, and loyalty of the former, he also has the goofiness of the latter. Sometimes he acts more like a man in a dog suit than simply a dog, and as a result, he is a never-ending source of amusement in our house. (Don't worry Sam, we're laughing with you not at you.)

On our first walk, I was unprepared for the stops every few feet to check out the latest "news" left by other dogs at the base of the trees, telephone poles, bushes, etc. "Not exactly what I call a 'walk'," I commented. Over time, however, I have come to enjoy all the pauses. They force me to actually stop and take the time, if I'm really present, to look around and take in the world through my senses.

Yesterday in particular, the world of our "shire," as we like to call the neighborhood, was a melange of wonderful smells. On the Eve of Spring, things are just starting to bloom. The effect of all the dormant flora coming back to life was the arising, subsiding, and arising again of many delicious delights for the nose as we went on our rounds. At the bottom of our street is a clump of Cleveland Sage, one of Kathy's favorites. I plucked a sprig for her, and placed it on the usual pile of mail that would greet her when she got home last night, well after dark. 

These simple gifts are here for us any time we stop and taste the bloom of the present moment. 

Gift, by Czeslaw Milosz:
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

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