Friday, April 6, 2012
Walkies and Photography
Yesterday was one of those exquisite days in early spring when the temperature is low, the wind is chill and the sunlight is glorious. Clouds filled the bluest sky, sometimes in masses, sometimes sailing along singly. It’s just the kind of day when I can’t wait to grab my camera and go walking. In light like that, every photo is beautiful.
Maclovio, the Chihuahua, after spending the day wrapped in an old Mexican wool blanket, shivering, was doing a tap dance of excitement the entire time I was suiting up. Amazing how he forgets all about the cold, when it’s walk time! We scooted out the door into the icy wind. Then there was a flip of the dog door, and out came Sophia, followed by her nemesis, Panda. So off I went, looking like the Pied Piper, with Mac in the lead and the two cats trailing along behind.
On a day when I really want to move fast, having the cats along is a real trial. Panda doddles, while Sophia moves like a mechanical, wind-up toy, striding along, never missing a beat – but the beats are slow ones. Meanwhile, Mac is darting ahead, then racing back to see what’s holding everyone up, then tearing off, again. The separate styles of the three fur children can pose quite a challenge to getting them all moved down the road in some orderly fashion. Usually, we are strung out for a hundred yards, with Mac in the lead and Sophia patiently bringing up the rear.
Yesterday’s photography expedition, however, moved at just the right pace for all but Maclovio. I stopped to snap a picture. Panda threw himself into the center of the road and rolled onto his back. Sophia came striding up, obviously glad to catch up, for once. I moved on, stopped again for a photo. Panda ran at Sophia, pounced on her and got swatted. Mac came racing back, did a loop around my legs and took off at a gallop. I moved on again, then stopped. Panda was now in the rear, sitting by the side of the road, crying piteously for no reason that I could discern, except the onerous burden of having to walk. Mac went over the side of the road and into the brush, following a deer’s scent. Sophia kept striding. I don’t need to photograph it. You get the picture.
We hadn’t gone far when a neighbor to the west started pegging away at target practice with what sounded like a big .45 hogleg. Maclovio’s entire demeanor changed instantly. He slunk up to me and hovered by my ankles. He didn’t want to go any further and had to be encouraged, step by step, with many It’s okay, Mac’s. Panda disappeared into the oak woods. Sophia kept striding. I urged Mac another hundred yards, assuring him every step of the way that I wouldn’t let anybody shoot him. Panda reappeared, then skittered sideways at Sophia, his back arched like a Halloween cat. Sophia ignored him and kept on striding.
More shots to the west. Mac is dissolving, shuddering himself to Jell-O. Sophia has disappeared. Panda is already headed home. I backtrack to find Sophie. Mac stands indecisively in the center of the road, loathe to take a single step in any direction not leading homeward. Panda runs back and butts Mac with his head. I find Sophia making a nice potty for herself on the far side of the neighbor’s sand pile. I take a few more pictures of clouds while we wait for Sophie.
Mac is now heading home with his tail between his legs, sort of waddling along, but determinedly. Panda falls behind so he can harass Sophie. Sophie lags behind further still to avoid Panda. I tell them to work it out and keep walking. I stop to take a photo. Panda gallops past me, passes Mac and is the first one into the yard. Mac runs past Panda and up the stairs to tell David his troubles. Sophia is two hundred feet back, striding along. I stop to take more photos.
Five minutes after Mac, Panda and I are back in the house, shivering and complaining of the cold, Sophia, refusing to use the dog door, presents herself at the front door, which I graciously open for her. She strides in, to the same metronomic beat she’s maintained throughout, goes straight into the kitchen, jumps onto the counter and proceeds to eat her crunchies. Mac is swathed in the Mexican blanket again, shivering away his angst over the gunfire. Panda departs to the loft to sleep off the exhaustion of having walked.
I run excitedly between the east and west side of the house, taking pictures of the rising moon (east) and the setting sun (west). David tells me that, while weedeating, he was trying to answer the philosophical question, What does it mean to be fully human? Personally, I feel like I’ve been living it.