Woman and Dog in the Woods

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So many things on my mind. Health problems, car accident, an argument with a friend. After dinner, I sink into the backyard spa and let the hot water steep me like a tea bag, soaking out the crazies as daylight fades around me. While I soak, Annie runs around the yard, barking at dogs she hears in other yards, grabbing a yard-long tree branch and carrying it around, then settling down to chew on it like a peppermint stick.

When I get out, not ready to go into the house, still avoiding the telephone and email, I wrap myself in my big towel and sit on the grass. Annie comes running and sits beside me. I wrap my arm around her. Suddenly we feel like IMG_20150902_184515698[1]a couple, Annie and me, partners in this challenging life of childless widowhood in the woods. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this big yellow dog. I know she won’t live forever. But she’s here now, and that’s what counts.

Whatever I do, she’s nearby, watching, listening, waiting for a chance to share my food, walk with me, or lie beside me on the love seat while I read, write, talk on the phone, or just pet her and tell her I love her. When she leans her 80 pounds into me, I feel something inside me sigh and relax.

Earlier, we walked our usual walk down 98th Street and into the wildness area beyond the houses. Suddenly Annie froze, ears up, listening. I didn’t IMG_20150904_100542760[1]hear anything. I was ready to plunge on through the salal and blackberries, but Annie turned us around. Tail down, she led me swiftly back to the road. I still didn’t see any danger, but she did, and I trust her superior hearing and smell. Often she has sensed someone or something long before I noticed. It was probably just a deer, but when Annie says, “Let’s go,” we go, just as she obeys when I pull her out of the way because a car is coming or I see potentially poisonous refuse on the side of the road. These days when the bushes are full of ripe berries, she eats from the lower branches and I eat from the upper ones. We’re a team.

Thank God for Annie.

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What’s Just Around the Bend?

Having worked through the whole weekend, I declared yesterday Sunday #2, put on my grubbies and did whatever I felt like doing. One of those things was a long walk with Annie way past where we usually go. We traveled from our home in South Beach Oregon down what used to be called Thiel Creek Road, the creek burbling along beside us under ferns and skunk cabbage leaves. The views were so stunning I have to share some pictures with you.

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I don’t know where this road goes. A steel fence and no-trespassing signs block the entrance, but I’d sure like to find out. Annie, below, was determined to find a way in.
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The spring growth alongside the road is lush this time of year with every shade of green.

IMG_20150427_172429213[1]The road goes much farther. I have driven it to the end, but walking gives a whole different perspective. I think I live in Paradise.

All photos copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2015

A Poem: Learning to Simply Be

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The dog sleeps against my leg,
chest rising and falling, smelling of Milk-bones,
dirt and rain-washed fur.
She has nowhere to go, no thoughts
about what she ought to be doing now.

My ankle twitches, my thighs itch.
I count the ticks of the piano clock,
like a metronome set on andante, slow.
I should be practicing, arranging my music,
composing a brilliant new song to play.

The big dog whimpers in her sleep.
Her paws paddle in the air. She pants.
“It’s okay,” I whisper, stroking her back.
Her muscles tense beneath my hand,
then relax as she awakens with a sigh.

She jumps up, shakes from nose to tail,
stretches and leads me to the door.
Outside, the stars shine thick and bright.
As she trots across the grass to pee,
I gaze upward, still earning to simply be.

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The pups in the picture are my babies Annie (tan) and Chico (black). They will turn seven next week.

All contents copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2015

Spring visits the Oregon coast

DSCN3881According to the calendar, we’re a long way from spring, but tell that to the plants and the trees, the shrubs and the daffodil bulbs bursting through the mud. Tell it to the robins and blue jays who have returned. Tell it to the tourists who came to town this weekend to enjoy blue skies and balmy temperatures. Tell it to the forest, hushed with anticipation, as Annie and I take our walk on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Tell it to the children who ran around the church hall during our potluck on Friday night, swinging around the poles, shrieking and laughing. Picture them 15 years from now when they’re going to college and getting married and still friends . . .

Tell it to the 27 little kids who went to confession for DSCN3879the first time on Saturday in preparation for First Communion at Sacred Heart Church. They approached the confessional with big sighs and exited with fist pumps, going up to the front of the church to light a candle and receive a certificate as I played instrumentals on the piano.

Tell it to me as I feel the urge to clean and plant, to mow the overgrown lawn and start new projects.

Groundhog’s Day hasn’t even happened yet. I know we will probably have more storms. I know that other parts of the country are buried in snow. But I also know that no matter what the calendar says, spring just called and said, “I’m on my way.”