77. The View from the Middle of the Road

Dear Tera,

Here it is again, the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.  Season of cool walks up to the pup kennel where the autumnal humanoids drop off their offspring early in the morning.  Season of renewing old friendships – the humanoids glad to see one another, and dogs happy to sniff the scents of those who have passed by recently at Starbucks. 

Glad to see that Louis and Marshall are back and in good form – Marshall the big, easy-going chocolate Lab; Louis the fast-breathing, bright-eyed pug.  The Mutt and Jeff of Ottawa South.

But the morning routines have changed this year. 

For one thing, no longer do the girls, Sporty and Sunshine, walk up to the school with the Pup and Alpha, Lily and me.  They head out the door early in the morning – before the sun is up.  They pile into the car along with The Mom, and we don’t see them again until the end of the day.

And what’s gotten into Sporty?  When she leaves in the morning, she no longer looks like a teenage rap star in outrageously baggy clothes and a baseball hat scooped backwards on her head.  No indeed.  Instead, she’s dressed in a uniform of blouse, tartan skirt, and knee socks. 

All the humanoids claim the new look is very becoming. I’m not sure I approve.  It’s harder to leave dog hair and the scent of all Sporty’s canine loved-ones on the new school uniform.

Sunshine is as bubbly as ever, new morning routines or no.  She talks about new friends – boys mostly. 

The Pup, of course, remains steadfastly focused on dogs.  He and Alpha have sole responsibility for feeding us in the mornings now.  And some weeks, there’s just Alpha, Lily and me. 

So that’s one big way where routines have changed.  The other changes involve my new resolution not to be hurried in life. 

If Alpha and the Pup want to get to the pup kennel on time, I had better train them to leave earlier in the morning, because the dog is not for rushing.

Once a dog has reached a certain seniority, she should be spared the indignity of yanked leashes.  I have earned my right to take time to smell the hydrants.

And as I proceed with my more decorous pace, it often occurs to me that we miss much as we hurry bee-like from place to place.  Often if we stop to observe from a different angle, familiar sights look startlingly new.

Take the middle of Riverdale Avenue, for example.  I don’t think I’ve ever before taken the time to stop in the middle of the road to enjoy the difference in perspective – the treeline, the roofline, the row of parked cars; the negative space that separates them all.  Call it my new-found negative capability.

Too often we hurry to get across that street and fail to notice the transcendent beauty of a fresh look at everyday things.

Alpha, of course, doesn’t see it this way.  Now there’s someone who rushes bee-like buzzing here and there from a knowledge of what is to be aimed at. 

And if he and Lily have preceded me to the other side of the street, and he turns impatiently to find me standing in the middle of the road, admiring the view, does he take the time to see what I see? Does he thank me?  Do I get a treat for endeavoring to show him how to be more in the moment?

No indeed.  He stomps back to the middle of the road, and hustles me across with a parting wave to the cars that have slowed down to admire my majestic progress.

But now that I have discovered the joy that can be gleaned from looking closely at old landscape, I’m not about to be harried or hurried.  If all of us could train our humanoids to take in the view from the middle of the street, I think we would do them a great service.

Receptive, like the flower, not the bee,