Nature
9:35 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Poor Will's Almanack: December 13 - 19, 2011

Poor Will's Almanack for the Second Week of Early Winter.

Several years ago, I took our two bulldogs out for a walk in the woods. It had snowed a few more inches over night, for a total of several feet in some places, and we were the first to navigate the path.

The dogs worked their way through the high snow, the puppy, six months old, breaking trail with his chest. The older bulldog was invigorated by the cold, ranged on ahead, leaping fallen trees, barking from time to time for reassurance and to check the puppy.

Above the dam, the river was frozen over. Below, in the open channel that led to the mill, the water was black and the current strong and loud. halfway to the old sycamore where vultures used to roost, a formation of geese flew over heading north.

Then at the bend of he river, suddenly there was a whinny of robins as we walked into the large flock that had been here feeding on honeysuckle berries since October. On both sides of the path, birds cooed through the undergrowth, calling and playing. I felt surround by and included in several separate societies then; I was part of the flocks and part of the pack.

Making my way through the snow, I thought back about the year I used to take a litter of puppies out through the overgrown fields of a farm I rented. On those walks, I experienced an excitement forgotten until today's outing in the snow, and I recognize now how important that excitement was and how I miss it.

I think that when I am lonely, it is because I've slipped too far away from some prerequisite communion, a hard running with the pack, a romp with my clan. I think we were all made to dance and cavort together in community of species.

Although the lesson for me has much to do with my relationships with people (or the lack of relationships), I do not seem to learn that that lesson from or with other people. I only glimpse its truth in these woods with the dogs and with the robins and geese, recalling our ancestry and our innate design, what we must have been and still could be.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the Third Week of Early Winter. In the meantime, if you are feeling lonely, look for answers in the creatures around you.

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