I don’t need to tell you that we are all living in strange times. We are reminded everywhere we turn. While it is important for us all to be vigilant about our health and figure out our new normal it is also important for us not to lose our authentic selves in the negativity that surrounds us. I was reminded of this on a recent walk that I took with my dog, Lilly. My son had picked out Lilly’s name the first time we met her at a rescue event, and it is ironic how well the name fits her. She is a Pitbull/Blue Cattle Herder mix., making her an extraordinarily strong, sometimes imposing-looking dog.
But looks are deceiving. Especially when it comes to her. If you take a minute to really look at her and see past the very alert Pitbull stance what you realize is that one of her ears absolutely refuses to stand up – unless it catches a stiff breeze. What could be interpreted as a vicious snarl is actually a big wide, toothy smile, and most of the time her head is cocked just enough to one side to give her a very inquisitive look. All together it is a very endearing look. She is white with black and gray spots, some darker than others giving her the appearance of a Dalmatian all topped off by a what appears to be a black teardrop spot at the very corner of her right eye. She is quite beautiful. Lilly is also very affectionate, some would say overly enthusiastic when you are the object of her affection, and above all loves to be outside. She is incredibly special to us.
When we rescued her, she was being fostered by a woman who had a beautiful fenced in yard with scores of various wildflowers all along the fence. It was no surprise that we found Lilly thoroughly enjoying laying in the sun among them all, who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, we live in a condo and we do not have a yard where she can spend her days in the sun among the flowers she clearly enjoyed. We do make sure that we walk her often and put her on a long leash to give her the opportunity to enjoy what little grass that we do have in the courtyard. She rolls in the sunshine and settles in among her favorite patch of clover when given the chance. She always strolls over to investigate any stray tulip or crocus that we may encounter. It can be hard to convince her to leave whatever warm spot she has claimed as her own.
When we go out on our walks there are several routes we take, but there is one in particular that Lilly obviously prefers. At first it really does not seem to make sense because it’s along a remarkably busy, noisy street. People very often beep and yell and large screeching trucks travel up and down this route. All this commotion tends to make Lilly a bit jumpy. Lilly and I walk quickly but when we come to a specific stretch along the sidewalk it’s as if we have stepped into a different world altogether. There is a physical change that you can see in her when we get there but not only that, she becomes calm, relaxed and the quick steady pace we have been keeping becomes a slow stroll. All the busy traffic and beeping horns seem to evaporate into thin air.
On this stretch of sidewalk is a house that faces the street. It is very picturesque with its bountiful hanging baskets of flowers and rocking chairs on the wraparound porch. All along the front yard is a small rock ledge – the kind that would beckon any small child … and perhaps even some adults … to hop up onto it and walk the length of it only to hop off at the end and continue on their way. But this is an incredibly special house to us because planted all along the edge, where the rock ledge meets the lawn, are beds of flowers. There are tulips, peonies, iris, hyacinths, roses, and of course…lilys. It is a veritable explosion of vibrant colors and fragrance. They line the entire length of the ledge. The width of the ledge gives Lilly just enough room to stand up on it to take in the view. As she stands on the ledge, she gently runs her nose among the beautiful blooms. It’s as if she knows that moving her powerful body too quickly could break the precious stems.
Given the opportunity, Lilly would stand there for as long as you let her gently running her face back and forth among the flowers and if you could catch a peek of her face in between petals and stems you would see her with her eyes closed and a big beautiful smile clearly taking it all in. I let her linger there for a few minutes and then gently coax her slowly down the rest of the ledge. She slowly…and very reluctantly…makes her way down the length of the ledge dipping her nose into the flowers the entire way. I could lead her along the ledge and not let her stop and admire the flowers that clearly make her so incredibly happy. But if I were to ruin those few short, precious moments for her I would also be ruining the joy that both she and the flowers bring to me.
Author: Kelley Campbell
Plants and animals do not always get along. For a sad tale of a young plant life cut short by a marauding squirrel, click here.