It's a nice day. The sun is shining, it's a little windy but nothing unmanageable, and I finished class about six minutes after ten in the morning. It seemed like the perfect time to head over to one of our island's parks.
My good dog Marge and I got ourselves in the car and arrived at our destination soon enough. Upon arriving, we headed straight up a steep hill to make our way into the wooded trails. I figured we'd walk those first and then walk back to the car using the paved route along the stream and lake.
It started out well enough, Marge's body hauling me on my hands and knees (yes, really) up the slippery and snowy hill and her nose expertly leading us into the forest. We walked on like that for awhile, totally alone, the everyday sights and sounds of the rest of the world blocked by massive tree trunks and muted by the crackle of leaves under our feet.
We made our way into a clearing - it's a no-go during the summer, when picnickers dominate the scene. But, for now, it was quiet. Marge reluctantly posed on a picnic table for me and then continued letting her scent receptors lead her (and me) around.
She found a smelly spot and threw herself to the floor. Usually, I don't grant her this pleasure, but because it didn't look like anything that would stick to her, I allowed her to do as she wanted. Besides, I told myself, this outing was supposed to be all about her having fun and relaxing.
Just minutes after her back scratch in the leaves, loud bangs rang out through the air. I assume they were from a nearby construction site. Marge went in to instant panic.
I tried my hardest to not get frustrated or upset, and she seemed to bounce back pretty quickly - at least more quickly than our episode with the hockey rink in another park a few weeks ago. Fortunately, a small dog went by moments after, and this seemed to reassure Marge a little bit. I threw treats into the leaves for her to nose and dig her way through to them. Although she was still frightened, she was willing to play this little game.
She was also willing to jump over this log, which I believe is the same downed tree she leapt over last January. I didn't rediscover its location until now.
I wasn't sure what to do - she was doing better, but there were still some construction noises resonating through the air. I began to walk back to my car, thinking that I'd maybe walk her in the quiet area of the park across the street and then head home.
By dumb luck, Marge stopped to sniff something along the road as we walked, and I turned my body around. I saw something that both swelled my heart and sank it at the same time. My mind now totally immersed and locked on to this sight, I abruptly turned 180 degrees and walked briskly, straight back into the park that I had just exited.
I knew Marge might react and I'd have to reassure her. I knew we might hear the dreaded and faraway sounds yet again. But, I simply could not help myself. This is not an every day sight around here.