The Morning Stroll

Setting out

Feb 27, 2017

My plan this morning was to embark on an actual writing journey, sharing daily stories of my adventures around the farm, especially those surrounding my morning pasture romp with the dogs. But this morning was less a romp, or even a walk, than it was a stand around. It was my own fault.

Typically I take two of the three dogs; Layla, my not quite elderly Aussie mix, and Mr. Pickles, my brown, but graying on the edges, toy poodle. Of late, however, I have been taking my wire haired terrier cross of questionable heritage. His name is Bartleby, named after Melville’s scrivener, who would prefer not to. He would prefer not to be on a leash, but while the other two happily follow me around the field, with occasional forays off the beaten path to pursue whatever critters and smells lurk beyond our well- worn trail, Bartleby has a tendency to dive into creeks, chase birds,  and climb trees…yes, climb trees. He doesn’t stay with us in our little pack.

This is a dog who rarely moves in the house. From the time my wife leaves in the morning, until around noon, he curls up on a blanket on the couch and doesn’t move. After lunch he returns to his spot and stays there until he hears the car pull up the driveway. He rarely chases the six cats we have in the house. He doesn’t play with the other dogs. Mostly he sleeps. Sometimes he sits up for a belly rub, doing the one trick he has and which was never taught. He has a look on his face which seems to ask if mayonnaise is an instrument (apologies to Patrick Star). If he spoke, it would be a slow drawn out process, in a rural drawl without much inflection. Think Billy Bob Thornton in Slingblade.

Once released from his leash in the field however, he races down the path towards the house, past the house, down the driveway, across the street and into the neighbors’ back yards, where he gets into I don’t know what. It is always a surprise to me when this happens, because he is built like a corgi, low to the ground, and unseemly long, with wiry black and white hair, and whiskers like a Scottish Terrier, while regularly displaying the energy of an elderly bloodhound, with the intellect of a mushroom.  So, I keep the leash on him, which somehow locks him into his usual state of sloth.

Our walks become stand arounds. From the minute he enters the field, he stops every three paces, plants his right hip on the ground, sitting kind of sideways, and munches on whatever grass he finds. I tug on the leash, gently the first ten times, more aggressively later, and begin to curse at him under my breath, to begin with, and more audibly later, using a variety of colorful names and metaphors until we get back to the house where he can curl up on his blanket until the next day.

So, this morning, I stood in a light rain, beneath gray skies, in temperatures hovering near freezing, standing around with Bartleby, taking three steps and standing around with Bartleby, and taking three steps waiting for the morning’s inspiration to strike.  Ultimately, I think I prefer not to.