Monday, January 2, 2012

Walking the dog on holiday mornings

With Christmas and New Year's on Sunday this year, there were four opportunities - twice in the country and twice in the city - to walk the dog on holiday mornings, one of the small pleasures in a cacophonous time of big ones. Today and yesterday in the country were not that much different from usual walks in Maine: the fresh sea air, the naked deciduous trees, the clothed conifers, the winter berries shining in the sun like bits of red neon, the faint sounds of someone working in the woods, an airplane landing. No people were around. One car moved along Ash Point Drive. Crows cawed in the trees, and moss seemed to roll in waves across stone and stump, bright-green in this weirdly mild winter. The ocean was calm.

In the city, Christmas morning is the best time of the year to walk. This year the pleasure was doubled. On neither Sunday or Monday did I see more than one moving car. A cardinal flashed in and out of a hedge. There were no other dogs to frighten our little one. Among the mass of suburban houses and yards I saw a total of four people: two stepping off a porch, a woman walking, and someone de-limbing a felled tree with an electric chain saw. This last man and his strange activity on Christmas morning made me think he was making a political, anti-Christmas statement, or maybe he just got the saw for a gift and was celebrating in his own way. The whole rest of the neighborhood was inside, with family or friends or quietly alone, celebrating the gifts of the season.

Such mornings are one of the few times the peace of the country invades the city, and one can walk without thinking about the waste of carbon and time and sentiment. It is mostly quiet and peaceful, like a country lane. The grass rolls across the yards, bright-green in this weirdly mild winter. The soul is calm.

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