As a kid, we had a dog named Heidi, but we never walked her. She just walked herself wherever we went, sticking close by always, as we spent most every day outside playing in our yard or the woods behind our house. I do remember picking up a lot of dog poop as a kid, but I have zero memories of my dog ever being on a leash. None of our neighbors’ dogs were on leashes either probably because we lived on a dead end street without a lot of car action. Dogs ran as freely as children.
Prior to Emerson, our service pup, joining our family at the end of January, walking a dog had never been my thing. I had walked with other people and their dogs. I love walking, and I love dogs. So, only naturally, I’m truly enjoying my time as a dog walker, and I believe the feelings are mutual for Emerson as his tail wags big time when he sees me come home from school. He knows what we will get to do next and is excited about it.
But in my time since becoming a dog walker, I feel like I’m more approachable for people to stop and ask me questions. Recently, two conversations have cracked me up. The first happened while walking to pick up my car whose oil was being changed at the Lin-Wood Auto Center in North Lincoln. Yes, we have a North Lincoln. The walk was in fact farther than I had anticipated, but Emerson was so very happy bounding along next to me as I attempted to jog and after 100 yards or so was reminded by my knees that we don’t jog. Anyway, there I was just minding my own business, walking my dog, (I love saying that), walking my dog (see, I’ve said it again), when this tiny car headed southbound, probably from Cannon, with snowboards on the roof rack pulls over and waves me down.
“Please help,” the twenty something year old man in baggy snow pants desperately cried, “are there any restaurants in this godforsaken place anywhere?”
I suddenly wanted to morph into one of those cryptic old fellers who say things like, “Sure is” and just keeps on walking. But that wouldn’t be very neighborly, and I do take pride in being a good, kind person.
“What kind of food are you looking for?”
“You mean we have a choice? Really?” He looks at his tired co-pilot and grins. She is ignoring him while scrolling through her phone, and I can’t help but wonder if today was her first day on a snowboard, and it was maybe a disaster because her boyfriend tried to teach her, and maybe she wants to break up with him now. Not that this ever happens. “We don’t care. We really don’t care– we are just stahving,” and now I notice the Massachusetts accent coming in loud and clear.
I tell them to keep heading south on this road, and they will pass the Woodstock Station for a big menu and Imperial Palace for Chinese and Truants for great sandwiches. And if none of that sounds good, they can bang a left into the metropolis of Lincoln for other options they can see from the road. It’s funny because for being “stahving” I wonder why she, the co-pilot, didn’t scroll for some food options nearby as any smart phone has that capability for the most part. I think he wanted to hug me, but he didn’t try and that was appreciated.
The other curious incident which occurred the very next day on the Fay Wayside. Now, I only know two people who refer to this stretch of road as the Fay Wayside– in specific reference to the fact that the road parallels the Fay Forest on one side and the river on the other– and that is my husband Geoff and my friend Dori who grew up in what the young snowboarder referred to as this “godforsaken place.” An entire family in some kind of large sedan pulled over to ask, “Where is Clark’s Bears?”
I chuckle to myself as I do not intend to make them feel stupid, but Clark’s Bears is literally within sight about a quarter of a mile up the road.
“We wish to see the Bear Show today because the skiing isn’t good we heard.” Clearly they also didn’t hear that Clark’s is a summer time gig. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the bears– all of them, wild and Clark related, were still hibernating. Yes, I know they are awake now and hungry and roaming all over looking for grub, but this was mid March or so and March was still a frozen tundra in these parts. It’s mid April and still winter at this writing…
“Clark’s opens Memorial Day weekend,” I yelled across the wayside.
“Oh, too bad, we won’t be here then.”
“You can always come back in the summer,” I encouraged, smiling, like thousands of others who enjoy what this godforsaken place has to offer families of all shapes and sizes. I’m not sure what the opposite is of godforsaken is, but when I’m walking with Emerson out on the open road, we are both pretty damn happy.