The Dog Knew Better

I grew up beside a mountain in Alabama, with a dog. If you want a happy childhood, that’s a good start. Sometimes the dog and I would go up the mountain, just us, with no particular destination in mind. There was always something interesting up there—little run-off streams and rock outcroppings, sunlight through leaves and the awareness of being among innumerable living things. We stayed together, but not too close. The dog and I were interested in different things, probably because I couldn’t smell as well as she could. Still, we stayed within sight, and if I decided to explore in a different direction all I had to say was “Cinnamon, I’m going this way” and she would change course without complaining. I guess there were smells to discover anywhere we went.

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Trails Are For Following, Not Just Blazing

It seemed like a good idea at the time. We were tired, and ready to get back to camp after a day of hiking. The map indicated that a straight cut had been made through the forest for the sake of power lines, and it looked like the perfect shortcut to bring us to our tents and dinners. We left the trail. It wasn’t long before we regretted it. The forest had been cut at some point, yes, but it was doing a good job of coming back. As we picked our way through the brambles and saplings, we didn’t notice the hornet’s nest, but they noticed us. To make matters worse, we lost our bearings in the unexpected undergrowth and missed the place where we had intended to rejoin the trail, heading off in the wrong direction without even realising it. Eventually, we discovered our error and limped the long way back to camp with our scrapes and stings – and a new appreciation for trails.

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