A Glowing Vat of Cheese
Freed from his leash, Coffee J. Dogg seems a different animal. With the world now his fire hydrant he bops along with bushy tail motoring back and forth like a Grandfather clock on Cialis.
He has taken to plopping down on select lawns, then rolling over and wiggling back and forth, dark-siding the neighborhood with legs akimbo. This seems to make him delirious with joy.
An old man in jogging attire walked by the other day, red-faced and huffing, possibly even infarcting. He stopped to watch Coffee doing his thing. “Boy,” said the old timer. “I wish I could do that.”
Man, don’t we all. Allowing Coffee plenty of time to scratch his itch and sniff every tree and shrub has taught me the value of seeing as opposed to looking. You can open your eyes as wide as they will go and look to the four winds and the seven seas and the whole nine yards but see nothing.
Looking is easy. Seeing, however, is the permission you give yourself to look and see and to exclaim about 500 times a day “Well, I’ll be dipped in cheese!” If you’re not in the seeing-eye mode, you are looking in the wrong direction.
Took me only one walk to learn that. The first time Coffee and I did our leashless thing, I strapped on my iPod and set off with bluegrass jiggling the earwax. With my eyes focused absently on the sidewalk, a car backing down a driveway nearly got me.
Brain to eyeballs: Look up. See car. Avoid death.
Up, of course, is where they keep the stars and the birds and those long fly balls hit deep to right. It’s not a bad place to check out every now and then, but if you’re always in a hurry, the upside of life gets downgraded. As long as the sky isn’t falling, why tempt fate by looking at it?
I’ve since resolved that earphones may be nice for long airplane rides, but for walks with the dog they close off any chance of having an original thought. Some people do their most creative thinking in the shower. It’s not a bad place to think, I’ll admit, but usually when I’m hosing down the abs I’m in mid-golden-oldie, trying to think of the third verse to something like “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.”
This invariably sends me off on a trip to the elephant grooveyard where I’m channeling Gene Pitney, scrubbing my head and belting out “No it isn’t very pretty what a town without pity caaaaaan dooooooo.”
Because I do not multi-task well while soaking wet, dog walking affords me my best chance to look in, out and up, to air out the grey matter and conjure some weighty ideas.
Thus have I noticed birds I never saw before. I can almost tell the difference between a Junco and a Chickadee. I see a tree and ask myself “Isn’t that a river birch?”
I’ve looked at the sky so many times in the past several months and seen the panoply of stars and jets and clouds up there that it’s second nature now to look up indoors as well as out. I went into the Giant the other day and while waiting at the meat counter I checked out the ceiling. Enormous! All I ever looked for in the past was where they were hiding the pickles.
Perhaps my biggest discovery of things up there that I had previously taken for granted is the moon. One evening on our dog walk I noted that the moon. It was visible in the low sky, all the way down our street, just a slim silver crescent of itself. Terms from science classes past boiled up through the Liberty Valence lyrics: Waxing Crescent. Or was it Waning Crescent?
Wow, I was remembering the phases of the moon that I’d heard but hadn’t really learned in high school. Maybe it was seventh grade. I get them confused. So anyway, about 10 evenings later as Coffee and I walked down the same street. I looked up and was stunned. No moon. What the…? How can that be?
A few minutes later we turned around and headed back home. And there, perched over our house in all its yellow and orange candy-corn beauty was old Mr. Moon. Or maybe it was Young Mr. Moon. I was definitely going to have to get a book.
When I got back, Katherine asked me what was up.
“The moon,” I said. “Did you know that it moves all over the place?”
It turns out she did know that, but knew nothing about the ceiling at Giant.
Coffee J. Dogg and I both slept easy that night and I dreamed of a glowing vat of cheese.
Note: For more about Coffee J. Dogg and the origins of these essays, click on the menu bar “Nuggets I Picked Up From My Dog”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.