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walking at night


i just walked the dog at midnight, like i do every night about this time.

i was alone except for molly (the corgi) and ziggy (the westie).  we were escorted by the cries of coyotes all around us.  3 different voices tonight, very mournful. they were about half a mile away, giving the local farm dogs something to bark about.  not knowing any better ziggy was pulling at his collar, like he wanted some of that,  molly just kept marching along, very business like.

we heard the great horned owl that is on the same lamp pole every night, and then saw him fly off like he always does off whenever we get to the same certain distance from him.  that first leap from the pole and the way his wings catch him and he swoops off into the night never fails to take my breath away.

we walked past my neighbors farm.  he’s a tough old coot, in his mid 70s, raises 25 head of cattle on his feedlot, cuts the grass on the side of the road with his old JD tractor a couple times a month, and gets more work done during the day than a squad of investment bankers.  always waves when we go by in the day.  he is wiry, baked by the sun and moves with an economy and grace that makes him part of the landscape.  he has a couple hundred acres here, being slowly surrounded by creeping housing areas but he has his little island in the sun. i’m glad to know him although we haven’t spoken more tha a dozen words in 8 years, and most of them the day after the storm had blown my trampoline up out of the yard and into his pond, about half a mile away.

in college i used to walk from my apartment out in the country about 5 miles into town and campus to see my friends in the dorm, but when i got there it felt different, like they were in little boxes just watching  TV, and i felt restless and ready to walk back out thru the night.

i used to cross over train tracks on a bridge and every night would stop and listen to the freight train heading west thru the Michigan countryside, unseen, unheard, unmarked in my passing. i remembered my dad’s stories about working on the rails as a gandy dancer, and i watched the stars wondering how far i could see.

i still get a rush of awareness at the size of the universe and how small but important we are at our little point in the great scheme. the night sky helps me feel connected to everything and find my sense of perspective

i watch my kids growing everyday, seeing them sort thru life’s questions, finding out who they are amidst their friends and schools and this town and wonder what their memories will be and how they will make sense of the great big dance around them.

i pray that they will find the wonder and mystery and pause to think about it once in awhile as they move around  the great wheel.  they are a joy to know and love and my real sense of wonder is with the connection i have with them and my responsibility in helping call them forth into the world.

and then i return to work  in my office, in the same way i return to my home after the walks, in order to take care of the dogs and get ready to meet tomorrow, content here in the middle of kansas

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  1. July 16, 2009 at 1:33 am

    I’m an avid walker or hiker too.
    Like biking, it’s a meditative excercise.
    And you just reminded me of the word ‘contemplation’- I should use this word more rightly than ‘meditation’ which I overuse. lol

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