For the past couple of months I've had plantar fascitis in my right foot, which has curtailed my usual walking. Most days I go up to Mills Reservation with the dogs for an hour or so--or I did, before. Now I'm grounded, more or less. I make it up there a couple of times a week on Aleve, but the next day I am always hobbled. The transition from being able to count on this to having it be sporadic and painful hurts as much as my foot does. The dogs aren't happy about it either. Back on the leash, they walk around the block with me, and they're as cheerful as they can be, but we all know they can be a lot more than that. In the woods, they bring all they've got, and there are moments every day that have us all looking at each other--hey, did you see that dog/flower/fox/wild turkey/kid/snake/branch/shadow? We know every trail up there, and we have our spots--places where we suddenly feel the world grow larger. One of those spots is in this blog's title photo; I think of it as the boreal forest, the tundra, an ancient ground. We live in season here, though, and it when changes my imagination names it differently, the dogs care about it more or less, depending. We're secretly proprietary about everything up there, because we know how it looks and smells spring, summer, fall, winter. We love it when lost people and dogs need our help to get back to the parking lot--yep, we're experts, we know where we are.
For over 15 years now going up there has been my most predictable activity, and the one I guard against submersion into the rest of busyness. I hesitate to call it a meditation practice, though people have told me it is one. How can it be, though, when lots of times I am yakking on the phone the whole way, or listening to MMmm Bop or Jesse's Girl, or I'm talking aloud and loud as a crazy person, trying to explain myself in some way to someone who is no doubt not thinking about me at all? I think of the walk as fun, even when I'm miserable--because I never stay miserable up there. It's not the natural beauty that does it, either. Fact is, it's a nice spot, but not a knock out. What grounds me again and again, what brings me back to a point of happiness, albeit tiny sometimes, is watching my dogs. Call it Beginner's Mind, presence, body wisdom, whatever--what I see is that they just like walking around up there, no matter what. That gets to me, every time. Why not like it?
But I don't like being separated from doing that. I'm grounded, but not in a good way. I'm past the point, too, where I want to eke lessons out of setbacks. I just want to return to my routine, waste some time, watch the dogs stare pointlessly into a hole that has been empty for ages.