Today, as we greet the summer, the clouds look like puffs of cotton in a field of blue. Deep pink roses bloom in the garden, and yellow coreopsis peek out from among green growth along the picket fence. As I stand on the steps, a brown blur moves in my peripheral vision, taking shelter in the shrubs. I think it is a chipmunk, but a part of me thinks my eyes deceive me.
I slowly descend the steps and spot a small bunny hopping along the neighbor’s property across the street. I stalk him in my slippers, trying not to appear stalker-ish, hoping he will submit to be the subject of my photography. I plod across the street without looking towards the creature. I have the leisure to do so as there is no traffic at the moment. My bunny is not an easy photography subject. He leaps, jaunting his hindquarters with its white tail into the air, as he moves further from me. I satisfy myself with a distant shot, a lot of zoom and a grainy photo.
little brown bunny
seeks white clover to nibble
and freedom from view
I think back to two days ago, walking Luce around the block. Lately, I spot deer almost every time I walk in our suburban neighborhood.
I spotted a deer grazing in a neighbor’s yard. He and I make eye contact, while Luce concerns himself with sniffing things close to the ground. The deer is a youth perhaps, lacking both the spots of a fawn and the antlers of a buck. We stand a few feet apart, and he does not move away from me. I speak to him very soothingly as we look at one another, “Hello honey. You are very nice. Don’t worry about Luce. I don’t think he’ll even bark.” I was wrong. Luce turns his head towards the deer, and he does bark. I step over the curb into the street with Luce to keep the peace between us.
A little ways down the street, Luce and I return to the path and continue our way down the hill. I make small talk with a couple across the street, also walking a small dog. I mention the deer, unconscious of what is happening behind me. “It follows you,” the wife said. The deer had been following in my footsteps, taking the path behind me. I made a friend, it seems. Perhaps, if I had been dog-less, it would eat from my hand?
This was written for dVerse’s Monday haibun challenge, with the requirement to make some mention of or reference to the summer solstice. I really enjoy the haibun form. This is the longest one I’ve written so far, and the first time to include more than one haiku.
This weekend was a busy one for my animal care business. I took care of Luce —
And his friend Stevie, (a female named for Stevie Nicks) …
for an overnight from Saturday night until midday Sunday. The dogs were good doggies, and they enjoyed some play time together. Still, at one point, Luce became intimidated by his bigger buddy, so I kept them somewhat separate. Once Stevie understood that Luce was no longer available as a playmate — he had taken refuge in my mother’s lap — she was content to settle and have cuddles with me. (I was thankful for mom who made it easier to keep both doggies content.)
Immediately after these two dogs were picked up, I went to a nearby hotel to watch two small dogs, Cal and O.B., for a few hours. Their owners were visiting from out of the area. They were going to a grandson’s birthday party and wanted to keep their dogs separate from their son’s big dog.
Cal is some sort of Yorkshire terrier mix …
and O.B. is a Maltese.
Cal is barking in the photo. He began to see me as a purveyor of treats, and he thought that if he twirled enough and barked, there would be endless treats. I did give them both quite a few.
After my time with these doggies, I came home and had Luce back for another overnight. He and I enjoyed some more cuddles.
Sometimes, I think of myself as a professional dog cuddler (although the job involves a bit more than that.) Charles Schultz is right. “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
This is for Weekly Smiles at Trent’s World (the Blog.) I hope my recent doggy adventures made you smile.
That’s a long title for this post, but it was hard to summarize my recent adventures succinctly. On Saturday, I had two walks, one with an adorable doggy and one without, and I thought I would combine them into one post. This is inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk.
First, I stopped to take care of two cats for a client. Their names are Oscar and Simon.
I told the owner that the cat names made me think of The Odd Couple. Of course, for The Odd Couple, their names should be Oscar and Felix. (Felix is definitely a cat name and even the name of a famous cartoon cat.) But then, the writer of The Odd Couple is Neil Simon, so there you go.
My dog care clients always seem surprised that I have quite a few cat care clients also, with the assumption that cats are more independent. So, for the dog people, I’ll explain. Most cats eat at least some wet food, if not primarily so. This food has to be served fresh, and any leftover food has to be scraped and scrubbed from their bowls. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Additionally, a lot of cat owners also feel that their cats will get lonely and need some human interaction. Alas, cats also tend to have some messy issues … like puking up hairballs. Ah, yes, it is sometimes a dirty job. Mike Rowe would be proud.
The cats are located so conveniently near the park that I thought I would visit and walk there again after caring for them. This is Verona Park, which I recently blogged about, but I thought I would take photos in a completely different area. So, I took some photos in The Children’s Garden outside the playground area.
It’s a pretty little garden with some flowering chives, irises, circular stone paths and benches for sitting. In the far background, you can see the children’s playground.
I tried to identify this white flowering shrub and think it may be viburnum.
There were also some pansies in a barrel planter …
and some polka dot plants in a painted wheelbarrow.
I’m not sure why it’s called The Children’s Garden other than its location by the playground. As far as I can tell, children aren’t involved with maintaining the garden. I had different expectations, thinking it would have more whimsy.
I can imagine a garden that references gardens in children’s literature such as the talking flowers in Alice in Wonderland, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden, Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden or even the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.” Can’t you just imagine some appropriate statuary or plaques with literary quotes? Wouldn’t a little fairy garden be fun? Possibly, there could be some interactive station to teach children about plants or gardening also, as they have in some children’s museums.
I’m not criticizing the pretty garden at all, but I, evidently, have a lot of ideas. How easy it would be to execute the ideas is another question, but it’s fun to dream.
I then walked to the other side of the lake and saw a lot of geese, ducks and other birds. I got a few good shots of these. After planning this post, I saw that there’s a photo challenge for Birds Weekly — birds beginning with a G in the title. Since I do have some goose photos, I thought I’d join in.
There was this lovely sitting mallard, who didn’t seem too afraid of me.
And several lovely Canadian geese. The deposits they leave behind aren’t so lovely, but it didn’t seem to be too out of control.
And some mallards and Canadian geese together … socially distancing.
Then, I saw these mysterious water birds perched on wood in the middle of the lake. Perhaps, Mark S. of Naturalist Weekly can help me identify them? Or if anyone else has a guess, please let me know in the comments.
After this excursion in the garden and around the lake, I drove to see my friend, Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. He was happy to see me.
He was very happy to see me as in, “Here is my belly. Please, give it rubs.”
He greets me with loads of kisses. This may be a cute face shot … (I mean, talk about puppy dog eyes) …
but it does not show off one of his signature features (or features of the breed,) his floppy, curly-haired ears.
He and I walked past some pleasant places in his community, like this pretty gazebo …
And this lovely pond with fountain …
and some flowering shrubs.
We walked along the main road and passed by some public buildings on our way which were not so interesting to photograph, but any land in New Jersey that is allowed to go wild is very woodsy, so there were some interesting spots even sandwiched between these buildings such as here, this rock ledge overgrown with ivy …
And Cherokee rose …
As we walked around the community center building, Ollie met a couple of admirers. One passenger in a car stopped at a light had to roll down the car window and share her admiration. We also came across a man, a Cavalier owner himself, who had to stop and give Ollie some pets and attention. I’ve noticed as an introvert that walking a dog gives you an outlet to talk to strangers more than anything else.
We were really astonished as we took the sidewalk path that hugged the rear of the community center building to come across a plastic tub full of baby ducklings!
If I had any way of anticipating what was in this red plastic tub, I never would have walked a dog right up to it. It was a thorough but delightful surprise. Ollie was behaving like such a nice gentleman. He didn’t bark, poke his nose far into the bucket, try to climb in or, otherwise, disturb the ducklings. So, I thought I could pause long enough to snap a photo.
It’s a little mysterious what the ducklings were doing there. My guess is that someone at the community center is caring for these ducklings, because they have no mother. I tried looking at the community center website to see if there would be mention of them, but there wasn’t. I did see an article from 2017 where township police rescued baby ducklings from a storm drain, so I suppose it is also possible that a similar incident repeated itself. At any rate, I am happy to have had a glimpse and a photo op.
What is your favorite part of my walking adventure?
I want to take you on a virtual walk with me, inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk, with a little haibun (Japanese poetic prose,) haiku, park photography and a little down-to-earth information about our experience.
On Saturday, I walked with a new doggy client, Luce (pronounced Loochay,) a handsome dog, a Brittany spaniel and dachshund mix. We walked through Verona Park in Verona, New Jersey, and as it was a nice day, the park was busy with people doing everything possible to do in the park: fishing, cycling, walking dogs, playing tennis, paddleboating and using the playground and the exercise stations around the walking path.
We traipse along the paved path, Luce moving ahead of me, waving his tail like a feathery fan. We pull to the water’s edge where the sun glints against the smooth surface. The blurred reflection of the trees in the water resembles an impressionistic painting. A central fountain shoots its spray, creating a relaxing soundtrack, while distant swanboats glide through the pond.
Other swans dock at the shore, awaiting passengers, their beaks face to face, creating a heart in the negative space between them.
Intense pink dianthus greet us, lifting their frill-framed faces to the sun.
The shadows of the trees create lacy patterns on the wide stone path bordering the lake while a paddleboat floats under the arch of a stone bridge.
A cluster of irises grow at the water’s edge, their yellow teardrop petals drooping gracefully.
A weeping willow’s tendril-like branches sweep the water’s surface. They hang like a fairy maiden’s hair prepared for a wash. Its branches majestically arch and curl above the reflective water.
Luce, though placid, is drawn to the sight and smell of two ducks in the water.
Luce and I had some refreshment at the Snack Shack at the boathouse after our walk. I had forgotten to bring water or a dog bowl, and as I was too distracted to notice the signs forbidding dogs on the dock, I carried Luce over to the Snack Shack order window. I bought a drink for myself and a bottled water and asked if they could give me a bowl for the dog. The kind employee at the window alerted me to the "no dogs" rule but provided a bowl for me. I thought they might have a disposable one, but he gave me a melamine plastic one. We sat at a nearby lakeside bench to refresh ourselves, but I didn't break the rules again in order to return the bowl, so I hope that they were able to retrieve it from where I left it. I appreciate the kindness of that employee.
Today, I walked the dog I am caring for, Franco, around the block. I saw this tree along my street and was struck by the shape of the tree and the color of the sky. I began describing it mentally and thought, “That’s almost a poem.” I later tried to work out those thoughts into haiku format.
I’m more of a prose writer, and my poetry writing has been more sparse and sporadic. Still, I thought this was not bad for a quick write.