Friday, August 23, 2013

The Dog Walk

For all of our married life, Ron has walked the dog every morning, rain or shine.  For a ten-year period when we had two dogs, he walked them separately, every day, down to the river and back.  (He tried walking them together - a Lab and a Husky - and was nearly dragged to his death when a cat crossed their path.)  When Ron developed neuropathy, we had just lost Fred, a 120-pound Black Lab and had intended to try to live without a dog for a while.  With the diagnosis, I thought a dog would keep him walking as long as possible, so we got Cheyenne from the shelter, a Husky mix who weighs about 80 pounds.  Several weeks after we brought her home,  Ron was sidelined by a foot infection.   That was two and a half years ago, and the problems it created are with him still.

I have been the designated dog-walker since then.  I thought I would hate it, but Cheyenne was my idea so I - the sack rat - make myself get up in the Oregon weather and walk.  I discovered that early morning is a wonderful time, whatever the weather or the temperature. When the sky and the river are both blue, it's like paradise.  When storm clouds fill the sky and the river roils, it's still paradise, but with an element of dark, dangerous beauty.  On those mornings, the wind smells like Japan.

 Our path is one block uphill, two blocks west, or east, depending on what Cheyenne decides, then home again.  Takes us all of twenty minutes because she has to sniff every blade of grass, but it's very soul restoring for me.

We live in Astoria's oldest plat, and our walk takes us past homes that were built by the owner of a cannery, a former governor, the first priest to serve Astoria in the 1860s, and a business  man our guide book calls a wine merchant, but who really owned several taverns.  The houses are magnificent, with elegant old scroll-work, beautiful railings and columns, and old four-over- four windows.   Because they're on a steep hill, they are set on banks held back by stone or brick walls.  At this time of the year, what I'm sure are heirloom red and pink roses cascade over the walls and fill the morning air with the most amazing fragrance.

The oldest home on the block is the residence of a Giant Schnauzer who wants to kill us, but fortunately a fence prevents that.  Cheyenne, who grew up with fourteen other dogs in a drug house in the country, takes it all in stride.  Maybe the bared fangs and the deep-throated roar mean something else in dog and I'm taking it all too seriously.  Still, I'm grateful for the fence.

Every other morning we meet Jane, a lovely woman a little younger than I, who works three days a week in a doctor's office, and Gracie, a raggy little white dog, who loves Cheyenne and wags a spindly little tail like crazy when they meet.  We all exchange pleasantries and move on.

We cross 16th Street, which is so steep that the city closes it down when it snows because it's dangerous for cars, so kids sled and toboggan down it.  At 6:30 a.m., the traffic is usually light and we can cross leisurely.  The view of the river is magnificent from there - especially if the freighters are lined up, waiting for a berth upriver  in Portland and have to bide their time in Astoria.

At 17th Street, we go to the downhill side of the road and start back.  We pass an empty lot with remnants of a fragrant bush I can't identify,  a senior care facility, three old homes that were identical, but have recently been remodeled by a new owner so that they now have distinct personalities and beautiful landscaping.  There's a B and B,  it's  wide side-yard which affords another beautiful view of the river and the four-spired top of the Episcopal church on the block below, and our friends, Barb's and Steve's house (the people who created the party on our front porch.)  Their house is bordered by orange poppies and leggy daisies.

Then we turn down the hill to go home.  I unhook Cheyenne's leash, our two cats who've waited on the porch run up the hill to meet her and they all go home together.  Not matter what mood I was in when I got out of bed, I'm now feeling like the luckiest woman in the world.  The only thing that would make things perfect would be if someone else could cook breakfast.  But - small price to pay for having such richness in my life.

How do you start your day?

11 comments:

  1. I love your posts Muriel! I wish I could do that walk with you-it sounds so nice:) My day starts so completely opposite lol. We get up at 6:00, I shower, start my hard boiled eggs, get dressed, hair dryed, makeup on, eat eggs, wake up my little guy (if he's not already up), get him washed and dressed, make lunches, brush teeth-out the door...to daycare then coffee then work...but as different as our mornings sound-one thing we have in common is that every day as I'm walking into my office to sit down to read this blog-I feel that I'm very lucky to have my 'richnesses' in life:)

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    1. If the day ever does come when you can all visit me - we'll do the walk together - rain or shine. I remember days like you describe when my children were young and Ron and I were working. Rush, rush! I hope you don't have to wait until retirement for more leisurely mornings. I hope your book makes you a star and you can call your own tune. Whatever happens, though, you have it all already because you recognize the richness.

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  2. Muriel, I feel like I did that walk with you and Cheyenne :) You have such a wonderful way with description!

    My morning is more like turn off the alarm, pet the cat, feed the cat, take a shower and dress for the day, pet the cat, get the garage door opener, pet the dog (who's still laying in bed), pet the cat once more then grab my coffee and out the door to work. But then I have a half hour to listen to a book on my drive :)

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    1. Syndi - your cat sounds a lot like mine. Does he/she lie down in front of you so you can't get by without petting it? I offer you a wish similar to Jen's - that your wonderful Bachelor makes you rich and you can quit the job. You have to get that duplex in Hawaii!

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    2. Oh, yes. Diva will stand in your path so you either have to pet her or step over her. And she seems to think that 5:30 am is the perfect time for us to get up and feed her LOL.

      Yes, we have to get that duplex in Hawaii! The beach is calling my name!!

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  3. Muriel, I used to have mornings like that. We had a Samoyed who loved to walk, and also 2 cats to greet us when we got home. But our Sammy died and one by one the cats went on to kitty heaven. I decided I can't bear to have to make decisions about a pet's life and death, so I'm doing my morning walks alone. I meet a lot of people walking their dogs, but because I don't have one, we don't stop and talk. It means I'm missing out on knowing their names and what they do. So I have to make that up in my head. Great post. I know Astoria now.

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  4. Hi, Roz! How great that you take your walks anyway. And maybe the names and histories you're making up will contribute to a future book. I wish you had a dog to walk with, but I understand how much freer life is without one. Truth is, if I didn't have Cheyenne to walk every morning, I probably wouldn't get up to do it. I'd just look at the river from my office window.

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  5. Muriel, you have a beautiful soul.

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  6. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.

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  7. she's right. You have a beautiful soul and it shows up in your books.

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  8. That's such a beautiful description and morning experience, Muriel! I felt like I was there with you. And I have to agree that your beautiful soul always shines through.

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