Okay, so 9 a.m. isn’t exactly early, but it’s earlier than I usually take my dog for a walk, and it’s the start of what I’m hoping to make into a summer tradition. Summer in May? Absolutely: it arrived over a month early and acts like it’ll be around a while. In any case, I set out, leash in hand, in the tradition of other poets. Emily Dickinson, who wrote “I started early, took my dog,” obviously did the same, and it seems, from reading Mary Oliver’s poems, that she’s always out early and often with the dog.
I soon realized the wonder and goodness of such a walk, first thing after drinking my coffee-almond-milk concoction in the tub. Beyond the reality that Shay needs a lot of activity (and lord knows, I need more too), there’s the sheer beauty of the morning. Dainty pale yellow butterflies, slips of love notes, fluttered through. Other butterflies were equally abundant (and was that a monarch I saw?). The birds sang, phoebe to phoebe in that squeaky song of, “I’m here, are you there?” as if they were checking in on cell phones. Butterfly milkweed, the bundles of future flowers still green, filled the field.
The dog, like all dogs, had to stop and add his contribution to certain key locations. My friend Danny says it’s like a comment section after an on-line article, a way of saying, “Okay, I read what you said, and here’s what I have to add.” He pees in the exact places along walks in the country and in town as if each spot is a toll booth only dogs can see.
We rambled down to the mailbox, got the paper for our household and my mother-in-law’s, and walked the longer way up to her house to greet her and drop off the news. Then it was uphill toward home, the air sweet around us in its brightness and breeze.
While 70 degrees in May is an ideal time to walk with a dog, so is the morning, before my head fills up beyond recognition of projects in various states of completion or disarray. It’s enough to make me imagine waking up even earlier on hotter days, maybe eventually as early as Dickinson and Oliver, to see where the dog and day leads me.