It’s seven AM. It’s warm and the humidity is high. I’m already sweaty. I go out the back gate with Sam and Molly in tow, for our early morning walk. We like to go this way, up the street behind our house, but often we don’t, because if Lily, the cat is out, she’ll follow us.
Before we moved here, our home in the country was located on a cul-de-sac. There was little to no traffic. Lily and Pepper would often walk along with us. I’d trod down the lane, two dogs on leashes ahead of me, two cats taking up the rear or hiding in the tall grasses ready to pounce as we passed by. If neighbors were to drive by and see us, they’d automatically slow down, knowing that even if they didn’t see the cats, they were probably lurking about somewhere.
Here in the city it’s another matter. Even though we live in a quiet neighborhood there is more traffic. A few people don’t obey the leash law, letting their dogs run about, chasing anything that moves. So, I try to walk the dogs when all of the cats are in, which doesn’t always happen. In that case, if one of them discovers us heading up the street, I’ll turn back toward home, try to get the offending cat indoors and start out all over again. But this morning, all three cats are safely inside eating their breakfast.
I’m not fully awake yet, feeling kind of cranky and longing for the chill of autumn. I went to bed on the late side last night and didn’t want to get up this morning. I have a busy day ahead of me with a number of appointments I can’t miss and don’t particularly want to go to. I’ll be gone a good portion of the day, with no time to write, read or stare into space, which is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a time when wild, creative ideas pop up or answers to tough questions take shape. When I’m without a chance to breathe and take stock, I can easily turn into a curmudgeonly hag. Why do I schedule things so thickly that there is no time in-between?
Sam is tugging on the leash wanting to stop at every shrub to read the doggie newspaper and to leave his own drop or two of pee making it known that he was here. Molly sniffs as well, but she’s more interested in finding morsels of smelly, possibly rotten things to eat or roll in that the trash people have spattered about, as they emptied garbage cans up and down the street, a day ago.
These trips can be slow going. That is why my morning routine is to take the dogs for a ten or fifteen minute walk, drop them back at home, then continue on a more lengthy power walk that leaves me feeling vibrant and ready to start the day with enthusiasm. But that is not on today’s agenda. Too many other things to do to get ready for what is yet ahead of me.
As we round the corner back onto our street, we meet a neighbor, slowly walking with her tiny, month old baby tucked in a sash tied across the mother’s back. The infant secure and pressed against her mom’s breast, must surely be comforted by the beat of her mother’s heart as they walk as one, down the street toward home.
I stop to chat, admiring tiny fingers curled into fists and the soft, wispy auburn hair of the sleeping child. Mom smiles, tells me they’ve been pacing all night, the little one crying, unable to sleep. But in this early morning light, the flow of tears has come to an end, her eyes are tightly shut and she’s fallen into a world of dreams. I remember those nights, many years ago when my own babes kept me up. I’d rock or walk them, trying to soothe the hurt of a gas-filled tummy or the new tooth slowly poking through swollen gums.
As they turn into their driveway, I wish them well, saying, “I hope today is better than your night was.” The mother turns, smiling, gently hugging her precious bundle, saying, “We’re fine. You know … it is what it is.”
The grousing tale I’ve been reciting in my head about how difficult my day will be, suddenly evaporates. I’m left with the warmth and soft glow of this new day.