I wish to write about my observations, feelings and thoughts while I took my brute-of-a-dog for a winter day’s walk.

My dog, Jubbles, truly enjoys our walks of nature. The process of just placing the collar on him is a workout. Full of excitement, and joy, thrill and a flurry of tail wagging and hopping around are the first part of the collar and leash procedure. With a command of “SIT” and a clear view of a treat, he obliges.

As we start across through the yard, I can’t help but notice the insurmountable mole trails that have inundated our lawn. We must own an entire settlement of the animal. There are lumps and bumps and high spots and sinking areas everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

They seem to have started in two different sites… one in the front yard and another in the backyard by a pasture. I imagine their intentions are a complete consummation of our property… an attack from all sides... making a stroll through the yard a treacherous trek.

Now, I like moles in their sense of nature. A group of them, which I have, is called a “labor.” Does this refer to them as a group of very hard-working animals? Or, do I have what could be a union of a labor force. I’m not certain, but this I do know, we have a mess.

I looked on a map of Kansas provided by Ft. Hayes University showing dots in counties where moles are located. Yes, indeed! Right where we are situated. What luck! What happiness and joy! My dog must know they are there but keeps his sniffs to the wind and not to the ground in his yard.

Anyway, back to my walk… We take a gravel road near our home (because highways are not the best choice for the type of walk I want) that normally has an area of a flat walking field making it easier on the feet. Jules prefers to zigzag back and forth across the road, looking and detecting surprises in the grass and weeds — some left by previous dogs or coyotes in the area.

I love the tranquility and always changing viewpoint of what is before me. In this I mean the wildlife and wind effects, the clouds and sunshine or lack of it and how to take it all in, physically and emotionally. He takes the walks with an eagerness of sniffs to the air and a grin on his face.

Unfortunately, my first glimpse in the ditch happens to be something that will never decompose and are dumped there by humans… aluminum beer cans. AWFUL! It truly infuriates me! And offends me, and Mother Nature too. One type of can says it is “Natural.”

Many years ago I read if Pilgrims had brought over beverages in aluminum cans, the cans would still be around for us to see. Jubbles and I will get the cans and other lingering trash along our walk.

My eyes take in the beauty of the trees lining the road… cedars, Osage orange, redbud, locusts and giant oaks...bearing witness to our passing. Within their branches are flitting and flying birds of various sizes and colors. Some of the bird calls I can recognize but cannot yet see within the branches. They know we are there and have no intention to torment or terrorize them. Just walking by.

Jubbles, with all his strength and power, has made me walk faster with more purpose and power in each step. Healthy walking, I say, taking in the brisk January air with every breath. My partner exhales warm pants, often in vapor form. If our walk ever begins to feel like I am being dragged, I tell him to “sit,” which he does and receives a treat. I carry a pocketful.

The summit of our peregrination is an open field which overlooks the western horizon viewing row upon row of grassy hillsides. A panoramic vista with a grand feeling of solace and beauty. I recently read an article that viewing a sweeping scene such as this brings forth a sense of calm and peace...good for optimism. It is the use of your peripheral and full field of vision that accounts for this feeling. Maybe that is why highways provide “scenic views” for drivers.

On this day I caught sight of a single mockingbird in a roadside bush. Normally, a very vocal bird, it sat silently regarding us as I fondly regarded it. Most mockingbirds head south into Texas and Mexico, but some, like this one, stayed around here.

I turned to the bird and started talking to it. (No, I am not crazy. I just like talking to animals.) I told it to head to my house if it wanted seeds or nuts or berries. Guess what? It happened. No joke.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast. She can be reached at bethconner2019@gmail.com.

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