Boogie and I like to go sometimes, and this morning we walked a road we had never walked . . . its not far from our house, and its rural, somewhat untouched on one end by modern development. The road borders a 750-acre tree farm that stretches languidly, like its from another time, along the I-85 corridor all the way to Mt. Willing Road. Desolate with its loblollies and vultures riding thermals on a cold November morning.
The mobile homes on this road are firmly planted, nothing has been mobile about them for at least thirty years. A set of wind chimes rang in a tree near one trailer, painted dark green and encamped with four or five other small buildings, two constructed of cinder block, all painted Forest Service green . . . the chimes put me in a momentary trance, but I glanced past a collection of bird feeders into a glade with a stone fire pit where a man stood, in full camo with his back to me. He didn't move a muscle and I wondered if he was practicing some bizarre form of Tai Chi -- had he a gun, I would say he was waiting for a doe to wander through his commons . . . I pulled my dog closer to my side and walked more purposely, taking my eyes off the frozen man, and I waited for the sound of a shotgun. But it never came. Its full on hunting season here now, and I am not surprised to hear gunfire throughout the day from my own home, much of it coming from the vicinity of this road, and I imagine the neighbors are not against the idea of taking a doe or a buck at close range in the little fields that my dog and I skirted this morning. The Hari Krishnas commune just around the corner from this place, but you wouldn't know it.
Boogie and I pushed on in the crisp air, the sky absolutely water blue, not even a contrail cutting the atmosphere, and then we heard a boy's voice, distant, but somewhat panicky, "No! No no no! Stop!" and I turned to see the flash of white behind a very unkempt and sort of majestic holly bush standing in a barren field in front of a white trailer that seemed to lean to the left -- it might have been swaying with the soft November breeze, but I didn't have time to imagine the sailing of the great tin building, instead the boy's voice came again and accompanied by a milk white pit bull, the size of a mastiff, on one end of a lead and a thin black boy at the other end, being whipped back and forth with every stride of the dog, like a flag in a storm, "Nooooo!" and with this exclamation the boy's feet came out from under him and the bulldog kept on his direct line for me and my dog. For a moment, I let out all the air in my lungs and prepared for something that one cannot really prepare for, but I felt my cheeks flush and I saw the bulldog's tail was up and no hackles were raised over his great shoulders and Boogie was slack and so it was only the boy who was in trouble at this point, sliding across the yellow grass on his rear end. The pit bull came to stop at the nose of my dog and there were genuine greetings, "Are you okay?" I asked the boy, who sat still, akimbo, now, under the economic shade of a mailbox, which seemed to sway in the breeze like its partner mobile home, the boy only nodded and leaned back in a feeble attempt to bring his dog back to him, but it was no use. The dogs began to grumble slightly, Wanna wrestle? was the utterance coming from the two of them, and so this tête-à-tête needed to end, and I was the only one strong enough to end it, so I checked Boogie and motioned to the boy to stand, "Now you take him home and we'll go our way, and it will all be okay." The boy tugged and tugged and the bulldog protested, but finally went, and we went too. And I was amused and relieved all at the same time.
Further on, there was a squeak and rush in the tree above us -- skyward, a small hawk, a Sharp-shinned hawk took a junco in its talons, catching her soft little body in cadet blue as she flew, and he swooped off with her, into the ramparts of farmed and well-spaced loblollies and my breath was taken away.