Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography, Flickr Creative Commons
I walked out of my door this morning, running late for work, and was shocked enough to pause in my step. Where lately there's been only the lack of mugginess at sunrise, today there was actually a distinct chill in the air. It wasn't much of a chill, definitely nothing to qualify as sharp or even bracing, but it was there and it made me happy. I know I bad mouth where I live a good bit, and honestly, it's really hard for me to think of anything good to say about it when it's 99 fucking degrees in late September, but I have to honestly say that the place is entirely pleasant from October through early March. Overnight freezes are rare, temperatures in the dead of winter usually get up into the 60s or 70s. It's not uncommon for me to go barefoot outside on Christmas day. It's really hard to completely hate a place with that kind of weather.
I do wish it would snow a little, though.
Still, it's been cool enough this week that I've been having urges to put on my trail runners and jog that route I've got around the stand of pines, through the cotton fields at the border of our property and that of our dead neighbors, and back home over the dirt road. It's a beautiful run, even in the sauna of summer here. The neat rows of pines are separated only by a barely maintained service path from the natural woods, a seasonal swamp, across the property line. I have to pick my steps carefully through this section sometimes as the grass and weeds take advantage of the narrow clearing. My uncle had a section of that wilder wood thinned out recently and I miss the shade and the ability to pretend I'm out on the trail somewhere instead of walking distance from my house. I've taken Little Gandhi on walks through this path and pointed out the difference between dog and deer prints in the mud near the bog. I entertain myself as I take the turn out of the trees by seeing what's been through this section of softer soil and how recently. Quail, turkeys, deer, foxes, and raccoons are frequent. I've nearly crapped my pants spooking a covey of quail. They take off like shotgun blasts only feet from where I pass. I love to set up a camera trap here just to see what passes. It's a busy stretch of natural highway.
My past two runs have included a new jogging partner, although this one whines a little sometimes. No, it's not Little Gandhi. We got a puppy a few weeks ago and I took her out earlier this week to see if she was old enough to keep up with me. She sticks to the back of my heel the entire way and after taking a couple of unintentional kicks to the face twice that first day, she keeps enough distance to stay out of my way. She's a smart dog. We taught her sit and the very early stages of stay in less than five minutes last weekend. It must be the rat terrier in her. I don't think beagles (her other half) are supposed to be particularly intelligent or particularly stupid. She's not caused much damage beyond dragging up a little trash into our carport during the day while we're not home. I've even got her to stop jumping up on me in the morning pretty easily. The only problem is that Little Gandhi hates her. He claims he likes her, but he really only likes her in theory. When he's actually confronted by the concrete presence of her, he wants her gone. I keep debating whether or not we should try to find her a new home. I don't want to keep a dog unless it's going to stay inside where we can pay it the attention it needs and that's going to be a problem if Little Gandhi keeps his current attitude toward her.
Then again, I miss having a dog around and I want so bad to have a hiking partner with four legs. The kid may just have to suck it up while we teach her to be less physical in her joy.