Archives for category: nature

I stood in the pet store aisle considering the object in my hand. It was a brightly colored plastic stick-shaped dog toy. “Scented!” read the copy. “It floats!” said the packaging. I was thinking that this might be great to buy for my upcoming trip with our Shepherd/lab mix Sugar. We would be lakeside for two weeks, and I envisioned myself hurling the toy over and over into Lake Superior as she joyously splashed into the water to swim and retrieve.

But then I stopped and remembered: we will be right on this Great Lake. We have a sandy beach and we are in the forest. What exists there naturally, and in huge abundance?

Driftwood. Sticks. Of all shapes and sizes. Fun to throw, easy to float. And they must smell of fish and animals and insects and earth and rain and sunshine and all the things dogs intensely love to sniff.

I glanced around the store and thought about what else Sugar might need. But other than food and a few necessities, what Sugar needs is not on these shelves or hanging from these displays.

What she needs is eye contact, a friendly voice, a comforting stroke of the hand. She needs a loving home, long walks, and crazy playtime. She needs quiet, regular reassurance that she is a Good Dog and that she is doing the Right Thing.

I put back the chemical laden manufactured product and thought about walking the beach and the woods with Sugar, looking for the perfect piece of natural wood for that day’s play.

 

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The morning birds are chirping and the days are getting longer, but it’s a stretch to say that spring is in the air. Not in Chicago. Usually not ’til May, because we are known to skip straight to summer, seemingly bypassing the season of rebirth altogether.

Personally, this winter has tested my resolve in many ways, least of all the globally-reported weather. Yet out of winter’s dormancy comes growth.

Somehow this season has always been a comfort, despite the howling winds. An Ayurvedic doctor suggested it was in my Northern European blood. I’m more content on gloomy days than on sunny days; a mild storm does me better than a picture perfect day. I veer straight away from drama and chaos, but if a gray cloud wants to settle above me for awhile, I’m okay with that.

So I don’t mind still facing down the snowbanks, teetering cautiously on ice, and moon walking on two feet of packed snow to get to the compost bin. It’s only February; the winter wolf is still roaming these parts.

Time will move forward and as we approach the vernal equinox, I’ll be ready. A spring morning with the scent of new earth, a balmy and still summer afternoon, a succulent summer night. I look forward to all of these.

But I will still bid a longing goodbye to winter.