My Playground

My pals and I go outside to play every day. Yesterday Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog and I went out and played for a long time. It was a magical clear beautiful enchanting calm-wind day. My pal is a great playmate. She always wants to play and when we get to the playground, she knows just exactly what she’s supposed to do. She’s supposed to smell things and roll in the snow. She’s also supposed to pull suddenly on the leash when a very fresh scent hits her nose, but she’s never supposed to pull me down. When I stop to enjoy the scenery, she is supposed to lean against me and I’m not supposed to move away so fast that she loses her balance. When we near the end of our play time, and I say, “OK, Bear, let’s go home,” she’s supposed to walk peacefully beside me while I rest my hand on her back. 

Our trail. Mt. Blanca in the distance
El Rio Grande

I’ve been playing in this way all my life. It’s amazing what can happen when you go out to the playground. Lately, in one of our playgrounds, we’ve had the pleasure of watching a small herd of whitetail deer watch us. Among them is a very large buck who vigilantly cares for his wives and children. He’s a little scary, actually, and I’m glad we’re never very close. 

The big buck is at the far left facing, looking right at me. 

What I’ve learned over all my years of playing outside is that there is always some reward (though play itself is reward enough), a destination (in terms of destiny).

I always see something. Sometimes it’s light on the trees. Sometimes Kris Kristofferson’s face in the clouds (seriously and it was weird). Sometimes a rainbow. Sometimes hawks hunting low over the chamisa or desert broom. Sometimes bald eagles in the trees. Sometimes deer, elk or some other large ungulate. Sometimes a wild cat, a fox or coyote. Sometimes a friendly person. Sometimes the litany of night written in the dust. Sometimes an amazing bird. Yesterday my reward was a Great Blue Heron. 

Just like this (from the Audubon Field Guide)

I thought of a poem by Jack Kerouac the moment the heron revealed himself by leaping into the air, taking flight. 

Kerouac was kind of a Buddhist. For a while he was a happy person, too. During this time he wrote/recorded some lovely stuff. My favorite is The Dharma Bums.  Anyway for a while I had a bunch of CDs of Kerouac reading his work and some of his interviews on TV in the 50s.

In one of his poems he says, “Like kissing my kitten in the belly, the sweetness of the reward that we’ll get. This I know.” 

And it’s true.

25 thoughts on “My Playground

  1. I don’t see such wonderful animals as you do, but one thing is sure, I go out when I can, weather permitting and even if I only see the animals in the supermarket. And today I had at least 50 sparrows outside feeding from my birdhouse.

    • I read an article that said just seeing birds increases a human’s happiness level a LOT. I believe it. I love the birds in my yard — mostly sparrows in winter. I don’t feed them, but there’s plenty of food all around. I keep their birdbath filled with not frozen water.

  2. I loved it when the great blue herons lived in the treetops at Dana Point — they were a family with a social structure that was interesting to watch. They are majestic when they lift off for flight. They were friends, and they seemed to want to brfriend me as well!

    • ❤ I think animals are pretty OK with people who are part of their world all the time. I don't know if they are our friends exactly but they seem to be aware (which humans aren't all the time) of the essentially cooperative reality of the natural world, which, of course, includes kill-or-be-killed. I'm very happy out there (as you know). Sometimes I feel like my house is a necessity because I'm human and therefore physically fragile compared to all those guys outside. Lamont and Dude are funny but also (to me) not. There's (for me) a lot of truth behind their dialogues.

      • People here seem to freak out when the coyotes come out of the canyons (or move between them). I’ve seen an occasional coyote on my block — usually they are just ambling from one place to another, and none have been threatening from 1/2 block away, although they’ve known I was there. Even in suburban areas, we live in their space, and there’s a nice symbiosis if we recognize that. The herons were different — they lived high in the trees, so were not threatened by people below; people respected them and enjoyed just watching them. Everybody was free to live their lives, and it was beautiful until one spring when the trees were trimmed and the nests disappeared. I do agree about a house being a necessity — but that protection applies to people too!

        • I like coyotes, but then again I haven’t had bad experiences with them. One of my friend’s dog was attacked by coyotes in CA, but the dog was small and went for the coyotes. I was frightened when my chow mix saw a pack of coyotes and ran down to them to say “Hi!” but she came back when I called her and the coyotes just watched, so… But you don’t know. They have their own coyote rules. A really nice essay about suburban coyotes is “To Live and Die in LA” by David Quammen.

  3. Beautiful images Martha and what a treat to see all this wildlife on your doorstep. So lovely you can enjoy your walks again and Bear is such a good helper 🐶 Wishing you, Bear and Dusty a wonderful weekend and much love from all of us here 🤗🐾💖🐾 xxx

  4. Wonderful tale. Great eye, and wonderful day to be out. Birds are unique, they sometimes cannot be seen until they move, and it is wonderful when they do!!

  5. One of the things I miss about living where I do is the lack of interesting clouds. One of the things that drew me out west was the promise of “alligator lizards in the air”. Don’t see them much.

  6. What a gorgeous playground for you and the doggos. That view of Mt. Blanca is stunning too!

    • Blanca is a beautiful “massif” — she’s a huge hunk of mountain with several small “peaks.” She’s one of the four Navajo sacred mountains. ❤ (See, I'm as proud of her as if I'd made her myself.)

      • I can see why you’d be proud to live somewhere so pretty! I just googled her Navajo name, “Tsisnaasjini'”… which sounds like it might be a mouthful, but a very fun to say Mouthful!

  7. I love your playground, Martha! We don’t have an open area that allows dogs off-leash, so my family and I have turned the frozen lake down the street into our playground. I was just about to write a post about it actually. Even though we’ve been walking the same frozen lake for the past week, we find something new and interesting each and every day – so much fun.

    • A frozen lake? :O Wow. I look forward to reading your post!

      Bear is never off leash (“I smell something. Must go get it!”) but Dusty is never goes far from me and comes back when he’s called.

Comments are closed.