Monday, August 25, 2008

A Late Summer's Eve

Solomon our Golden Retriever pup

It's been a very busy summer. I haven't gotten out into the wild places as much as usual. I miss that. About a month ago Jackie and I got a new puppy, a little golden retriever. He's the first golden boy (as Jackie likes to call him) we've ever had. Solomon is his name. Tonight I took him with me out to the little nature refuge near to my house. We've been out there a couple of times before, but tonight was a special time. We got there just in the golden hour, as photographers like to call it. The hour before sunset or the hour after sunrise, the light is warm and wonderful. We haven't had much rain in the past several weeks and in addition there was just a slight coolness to the air, so the mosquitoes were absent.

I've had dogs for most of my life. . . this is a very special puppy. He is so very very smart, very mellow for such a young dog. . . He just has a wonderful personality. I really researched the type of dog we would bring into our home after we had to put our St. Bernard down in May. That was such a difficult thing. He was only 5 1/2 years old. Jackie and I really wanted a dog that was well suited to our lifestyle, etc. and the golden retrievers seemed to fit us very nicely. Earlier in the year we visited a friend who had a golden and were really smitten with him. Drew was such a wonderful dog and our little guy shows indications of many of the same wonderful qualities that we saw in Drew.

My friend, Paul told me how from the time that Drew was a very small pup, he would play a game with Drew. Whenever they were out, if my friend could manage to hide from his little guy, he would do so and then Drew would have to search for him and find him. Paul credited this little game of hide and seek with Drew's keeping his attention focused on Paul and thereby not wandering off when they were out together, so I've been playing the same game with Solomon.

The trail at Pipewort Pond is a closed loop, a little under a mile in length. Another friend of mine, John, who lives up the road keeps the path mowed. At one point there is a little boardwalk maybe 50-100 feet long that extends out into the damp spot that is called Pipewort Pond.

Swallowtail butterfly on a button bush flower


I love this time of year. There is something in the air, that speaks of fall being just around the corner. I don't know exactly what it is, while it is still summerishly warm, the heavy humidity of July has gone away, replaced (for me anyway) with an energizing aridness to the atmosphere. We haven't had much rain at all for several weeks and that has delayed some of the wildflowers. The thistles especially seem to be delayed and even the goldenrod is behind where, I remember it's more usual blooming schedule would put it for this time of the month. Around here goldenrod begins blooming about the first of August and continues until frost, but it only appears that it is starting to really open its florets right now. The staghorn sumac has brilliantly scarlet individual sections of leaf, but only as a minor note. Their main display is still to come more than a month yet away. The button bushes have a few individual ping pong ball sized globes of fresh blossoms, but in the main their branches are now covered with immature seed heads.

For all the dryness we've had this summer, the pond at Pipewort is very much surprisingly full of water. By far this is the highest level I've seen it, this late in the year. Every so often, the little flock of sandhill cranes at the refuge, would explode for some invisible reason, in a riotous disturbance of the entire pond neighborhood. . .Celebrating something only known by them in their typically rowdy manner. The cranes and an occasional dog barking off in the distance were the only ripples to break the calmness of the quiet air.

I so very much relish these times alone walking the trail. . . praising. . .worshiping. . .talking to God. My little pup was a wonderful trail companion. Solomon was in full celebration of the prowess of his wonderfully sensitive nose. Such a big world to explore, so many things to experience for the first time. He has very limited knowledge of anything at all. To my knowledge, he's never seen a deer or even a rabbit for that matter. They are both very abundant at Pipewort. He was nose to the grass, zigging and zagging from side to side of the path. It was most enjoyable to watch him revel in discovering the natural world.

A couple of times I tried to play our little hide and seek game that Paul taught me, but he always caught me before I could get behind some little tree or bush. He's become very good a staying aware of where I am, but at one point he was so very intensely tracking some apparently wonderful odor just as we came to a bend in the trail. I saw him slip around the curve in the path, maybe roughly 15 or 20 yards ahead of me and I knew that preoccupied as he was, I now had a good chance of hiding from him. I quickly dashed behind a little juniper bush in the tall weedy grass at the edge of the trail and crouched down. I waited long seconds and actually began to second guess my hiding. I did not anticipate remaining undiscovered for so long. I started moving toward the path from my hiding spot, at the same time reviewing my options as to what I would do if he did indeed get separated from me and I couldn't find him. In truth a little fear began rising up within me, before I caught a glimpse of him somewhat frantically running back toward me around the curve ahead. He was showing a bit of panic himself, as he anxiously searched for me. Before he saw me, I quickly crouched down again, now with only the tall grass for cover. He caught a glimpse of me and rushed me, with that which spoke of days or weeks of separation, rather than the few moments that it had been. As is our custom, when he finds me, he exuberantly licks my face and neck, wiggling all over as I give him an intensely affectionate hug and scratch time, while gently singing his name. . . We rejoice at our being together again. . . feeling the reassurance of each others presence. . . the fading of our anxiousness. . .It was so very nice to be reunited, after our small moments of fear. . .

It struck me very powerfully, quite vividly in fact. . .I wonder. . .maybe when I get too caught up in the busy-ness of my life, like this summer has been. . . maybe when I get too far up the trail by myself. . . maybe when I take my eyes off of Him for a little while. . is it possible that He might hide from me for just a little bit???. . .He's still there waiting. . . watching. . .worrying over me. . . He'll surely never forsake me. He promised me that, but is He sometimes paused as I charge ahead, looking to see how long it takes me to notice. . . looking for me to come back around the bend. . . watching to see how long it takes and how I react when I realize that a distance has opened up between us. . .

I tell you. . . I discovered Him anew tonight, and once again shortened the gap between us, it had grown too wide for my peace of mind and well being. . .there was an exuberance in the air. . .I leaped into His arms as He softly called my name. . .

The Cranes celebrated with us as the sun slowly slid behind the pond on a late summer's eve. . .

I love you my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely

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