On the days that it is up to me to walk the dog, we go west, out of town on 724. Dog panting and whining in the back seat, windows down, air filling the car with the smells of spring, warm weather. Over rolling hills, the houses start to spread out, the population thins. The dog knows where we are, where we are going and he starts to whine when we make the right to cross the river. Tires crunch on gravel, scampering paws in dirt, silence broken by the crashing of canine into brush.
Here, it is me and the dog. A quarter of a mile into the public hunting lands and the sounds transition from the rush of cars to the soft rustle of leaves, crops bowing in the breeze. He is running, jumping and crashing through the landscape, giddy while flushing the birds from their perches in trees and on the ground; you can see solid lines of birds fly away from him. In the worn work boots I bought ages ago on a midnight trip to Walmart, I walk with my shoulders back and look around, noting the subtle changes to the familiar landscape.
While I have a four-legged friend to accompany me, I am without human company and as a woman, this is remarkable. Ever present in our culture is the notion that women should not walk alone, not in secluded places where no one can find them if “something” were to happen. I do it at least twice a week, now that my day to day life has shifted into something new. I place one foot in front of the other, enjoying the landscape and my place in it. These few squares miles of land offer me intimacy, solitude, peace. I am clued into the subtle cycles of the planet, the weather, the seasons.