Background Switcher (Hidden)

Seeing With New Eyes

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sunny day. Meeting two bluebirds who know us. That's about as good as it gets here in winter. Chet and I forge on. I can tell it's going to be an epic run. It already has been.

This landscape sets me free. We climb atop what I call Butterflyweed Hill and look back up the road toward home. I like getting different perspectives on this land I think I know. What does it look like from there? What about from there?  Let's see. I like living in a place where nobody seems to mind my doing that. If they asked, I'd tell them I was working. This is my work, noticing what's here, appreciating it, sharing it. It's just that it isn't a paying job in the conventional sense.

They've all seen me dozens of times, and know I'm harmless. Most people probably think I'm nuts, being out in all kinds of weather with my little dog. There's that crazy lady who jogs, climbs hills, looks around, takes pictures. Wonder what she does with all those pictures?


We pass a car which turns out to be a 1968 Chevelle (Chevy Malibu with a different trim package). I learn all this from my friends Paul and Dirk, and confirm it with a look at the nameplate on the back. Truth told, I just like its lines, and the way the rust works with the white and the colors of the field around. It reminds me of an impala, not a Chevy Impala, but the African animal, with its rust to white countershading.

We move on, and the next person we meet is Coco. 

She is a perfect lady. She's the dog I told you about, who was abandoned on our county road. Mr. G. took her in and she's had three litters and made him $3,000 by his account. But he says he wouldn't take a million dollars for her. She is a wonderful dog. Also a member of the No Collar Club, I see. She lives on a busy county road where the cars fly, and she's got the sense to avoid them.  That right there tells you a lot about her.

Chet behaves himself around her, which speaks volumes about her manners and dignity.  An intact female, and he doesn't even get fresh with her. Go figure. She commands respect.

His shaved patch from the run-in with the German shepherd shines, and I wonder if he barged into her and surprised her on one of his conquests, if Coco would bite him, too. These are the chances we take when we live our lives and run the roads. We could sit home, growing plumper by the day, but we choose to move instead, to vary our view as we grow plumper by the day anyway. In a flurry of weirdness on Chet's birthday post, the one where he gets beat up by a German shepherd, one commenter wrote that she felt "very sorry for Chet," having a careless owner like me. Well, please don't waste any time feeling very sorry for this dog. He lives a fully interactive life as an athlete who gets to explore and run miles every day over new terrain. He is not a piece of inert animal furniture, leashed, fenced, overfed and cosseted like so many house pets.  Every day he has a choice as to whether to accompany me, and he gives me two paws up.

I love him for that. I wonder what I would do if I had a dog who could say no to a good run. And then I remember that we make our dogs who they are, and I feel better.

Done with Chet, Coco comes over to get some kisses on her sweet fuzzy nose from me.  I like Chet's pugnacious little bunnyface shadow, cast on Coco's satiny mocha-latte flank. Her skin slides all around on her ample frame, quite a contrast to tight-muscled, tight-coupled, drumlike little Chet.

We are in a hurry to get to the Waxler Church before the morning rays of sun get too high. I cannot wait to see it on a sunny day. I've never been there on a sunny day.

Ohhh. Even better than I'd dreamt. I'm so glad I've hurried and gotten here by 8 AM. The bounce light from the ground warmly illuminating the belfry, the sun coming through its windows, the way the skylight blues its shadowed side. Wow. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. This church calls me, all its people call to me across the miles. I find myself wondering how it looks in every light regime, and wanting to be there for each one. 

I love how someone has decorated the Booths' stone for Christmas, and I wonder if the little toy trucks were there before. There is so much I notice each time I come here, and wonder how I missed before. 

I find our neighbor Gayle's stone, realizing with a start that the recently turned ground where I stand (and instinctively jump aside) has yet to cover over with grass. The crabgrass covers first, of course, followed by the perennial grass. I should have noticed that. I used to talk with him as he mowed the fields, and I was at his funeral. It was there I first heard a recording of Vince Gill singing "Go Rest High On That Mountain." How had I never heard that song? How had I never seen this fresh-turned earth or Gayle's stone before?

Visiting this quiet churchyard is so much like entering the woods, picking up on things you've never seen or, more correctly, have never noticed.  It's like hearing a beautiful song that everyone else seems to know and love for the very first time, and wondering how it eluded you. 

I walk around in a state of wonder at all I've missed.


Beautiful post. Your words and love of nature brighten my day. Good morning!


The discovery of something new when revisiting a familiar place is essential to the creative life. It is great that Chet shares these adventures with you, and that you share the accounts with us. Dogs also need to use their senses daily for a full life. I think that it is important for us to provide opportunities for dogs to explore with us. There is a book-Merle's Door-Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, by Ted Kerasotes that I really enjoyed.

Lucky us, to share your moments, and Mary Oliver moments, too.

Posted by Anonymous January 7, 2014 at 8:17 AM

All due respect to Anon and Mary Oliver, I think you know your nature better than that poet. I'd say Annie Dillard, or a lighter, Chet-i-fied Emerson and Thoreau--especially as you talk about being the local weirdo with dog and camera. What if Thoreau had had a camera . . . ?

Is it possible you have no snow? We're at 8 - 10 inches in Detroit-ish.

Yes. What's up with clear ground?
A foot with drifts up to 5 feet, -22c (-9F for my American friends) and howling over 60k (oh alright 35 mph) and you missed all these mega storms.

We were out birding, strictly in car, when we saw a crow fighting the wind. Anne said it looked like it was treading air.

IT's cold enough that the squirrels and racoons aren't coming out.

Cheers to North Dakota.

I wonder about your Booths, being one myself. I even had a great aunt who was also a Katharine Booth. What an odd coincidence. Caroline Booth Stafford, in the Black Hills.

Your stories make me happy to bloom where I am planted. Thanks

Julie, I am only now getting caught up with you after getting a new computer sometime last fall and somehow losing the feeds from the few bloggers I enjoy following. Seeing with new eyes, or simply finding something new, brand new in my life. Every time that happens, I confess that I give a little squeal of joy, wondering what else I have missed, knowing there is SO much more to explore, to find, to see! Thanks for reminding us to not (never!) be complacent about life. :)

[Back to Top]