Memories of walks past

The stranglehold of winter appears to be loosening.


Pretty soon it will be a memory.


Can sunshine and warm breezes be far away?


I normally walk this trail on the bluff overlooking the river only in the winter months.  Not because it might be more picturesque during these quiet, snow-blanketed months but because of this:


These leafless stalks bearing dried creamy white berries are poison ivy.  The bane of my existence.  Thickets of it line either side of this path and taunt me as I walk through, as I hold my hands in my pockets and stand straight as a soldier as I trek by.

My skin’s reaction to this kind of plant (and all its dastardly relatives) is so acute that even a couple of weeks ago I suffered a flare-up from the latent oils, either still on my hand or a glove, or — who knows what?

I have walked this path for almost twenty years now.

It is now crowded by a new housing development, but the path still skirts the water and descends down to a small sandy beach where Skye can swim and where my first dog, Riley, would wade.

I would pass this giant white pine.


This ancient tree is shrinking from age and it’s limbs that have been weakened by the weight of successive winter snows.

The thick branch that reaches out to the right was once where a racoon lay.  My morning walk took me underneath this tree, as usual, but on this day I looked up.  A motionless racoon lay sleeping, straddling this wooden arm.  It was unaware of us as we walked below.

We returned in the afternoon to see him again.  It wasn’t until then that I realized he was not sleeping.

It was a safe place to die.  His body remained there throughout the early days of autumn, and as the winds chilled, bits of fur wafted down onto the ground below.  Safe from predators and hungry opportunists.

Every day I looked up.

I measured the seasons by how he began to disappear until one day in the spring, all traces of him were gone.

Except in my memory.