In this year of the Yellow Earth Dog, there has been an opportunity to learn from the Earth Dogs. The other morning I had a magical experience with the Big Dog in my favorite woods. These woods are magic – like most woods – but these woods are in Seattle, surrounded by urban neighborhoods, among the ferns and cedars, next to streams and creeks that welcome the return of the salmon in the winter. These are the woods where my son, at age 1, demanded to be taken out of the backpack so he could hike the familiar trails during nettle season. The nettles were taller than him and magically he did not get stung once though my legs were getting stung as I followed behind him. Thank you, fairies! My son is 19 now and I have walked these woods weekly and delight in the familiarity of them as well as the newness of each returning season. I have had many, many magical encounters with nature.
Part of the loop I do, the trail makes a half circle through a grove of cedar and pine with the ferns creating a ruffly understory. This particular morning, as I came to the middle of the half-circle, I could hear classical music playing and there sitting on a log in a beam of sunlight was a man clutching a very relaxed jacketed chihuahua. He pronounced proudly “Hello! We are waiting for the Big Dog!” the classical music emphasized the proclamation. The reverence and awe with which he shared his news I felt as if he was Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Who could be this Big Dog? Was this Big Dog going to share wisdom about life? Or bring long-awaited presents like Linus hoped for? I paused to drink in the scene. I wanted to behold this Big Dog who has music playing for his entrance and part of the welcoming party.
My dogs had gone on without me and were circling back to check on my whereabouts when we heard branches breaking. Out of the ferns emerged a Big Dog with tongue hanging out and smiling from ear to ear. We all cheered at her arrival – she bounded forth greeting all of us with enthusiasm and interest. And then they all turned and went the other way – was that real – did I meet the Big Dog? Was there wisdom or a gift I had received? Yes, there was. It was a moment of time to cherish a blessing to witness how an animal and their human take delight in each other’s existence. This man and Big Dog showed me how allowing each other the time to explore and run wild as well as being comfortable in waiting kept the connection to each other fluid, opening and loving.