“In every moment I am filled with deep gratitude.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
The autumn woods are most beautiful, I think, now in early October when the trees are only partly changed. There’s still a lot of light green in the mountains, as well as the darker green of piñon and juniper, but some stands of slender-stemmed white barked aspen are already entirely gold.
A procession of cars moves steadily up and down the mountain road, the parking lots overflow, and there’s not much quiet to be found on the trail after nine A.M. But how good it is to see all shapes and sizes and types and ages of people out walking, some with great serious looking cameras, some with dogs on leash or off, some with babies in packs or children led by the hand. Not too many people make it the six miles up to the cell towers at the top of the mountain but it doesn’t matter. There is so much beauty along the way.
Pip is now two months out of the shelter. He has grown longer and a little thicker, and his black coat gleams. I call him “The ambassador for Pit Bulls” since he is so gentle, and even walkers who have a prejudice against his kind sometimes let him approach. Nearly all women love him which I think says something positive about us since he is the sign and signal of the masculine.
He gets to go off the leash pretty frequently now and nearly always comes back when I call, although once this morning he became wildly excited at the approach of another, unleashed dog and I was shouting and scrambling and grabbing for a while before I could get ahold of his collar.
Years ago, when I owned a Pit Bull look-alike that was actually a purebred Staffordshire Terrier (and a less good dog), my beloved eldest granddaughter, Ariadne, made a wooden sign for me to hang around her neck. It said, in red and green letters, “I AM NOT A PIT BULL.” It was a little too cumbersome to be worn but I’ve always treasured it.
I have a feeling that Pip is so gentle because he was not separated early from his mother. He learned something essential, I think, from her: how to stand quietly and wait for a stranger to stretch out a hand, for example. Perhaps his owner couldn’t afford dog food—that happens quite often here—and so eventually had to turn him out on the road. But he had already learned what he needed to know. I only enforce it.
People outdoors seem nicer than people indoors (with a few exceptions.) We are so corralled and harassed in our houses by cellphones, email, and all the other proliferating forms of interruption that we tend to get jangly. Not so on the trail. After all, there is nothing to accomplish there, except perhaps to make it up to the big boulder with the view of the valley, and to enjoy Pip darting full speed ahead.