My feet slap the ground jarring my legs with each step but I do not slow. The frozen mud of winter’s waiting must be passing beneath me but I do not notice. It may have been a nice day out, there may be birds calling through the otherwise winter barren trees, who knows?
I am lost in a tangle of thinking; a busy brain enfolding on itself.
Pip trots ahead of me, staying on the path, doing nothing in particular, I gather, since nothing in particular draws my attention to her. We both proceed in parallel.
About ten minutes in, my mind joins in the rhythm of the stride and my body unhasps a bit. Cajoled back to the day or simply have done enough flight for my crocodile-brain to relax I do not know, but my hips settle and soften, my strident stride slows a touch to more of a swinging walk, my breath releases deeper, my shoulders drop. I flickeringly take in my surroundings.
Without glancing back at me, Pip grabs a stick from the ground then she shakes her head at me, smiling. Wanna play? She knows me beyond current explanation and just doesn’t try to interact until this shift.
Breathing deeply, I notice the gray sky is still bright enough to cast pale barcodes onto the path through the trees. I pick up Pip’s playful proffering, tossing it into the autumn crisp leaves. She springs after it, casting rustling sounds and earthy smells around her as she hunts.
Pausing, I watch her nose sliding a few inches above the forest floor, inhaling deeply, dismissing the probably hundreds of other delicious smells seeking only ours. She pounces on the right stick, cavorting back, glee in her movement, “again” in her eyes.
We share a moment of contentment there, on the trail, in the woods, she and me. Tossing the stick again, watching her lose herself in her hunt, I lose myself, too. There is no past plucking at my mind, no future focus tugging at me - just now, just Pip, just this stick.
In a few minutes, we start walking again - my arms swing easily at my side, my legs take long, loose steps. I listen to the wind castanet the branches against each other. It smells like snow. My feet touch the ground in easy connection. I avoid the rocks and roots as I head to the car. Pip casts a happy eye over her shoulder as we head back - together.
by Sarah Wilson