Huck and Finn

I enjoyed a leisurely six mile run with Finn at Cougar Mountain this morning. Several storms have blown through in the past few days, pulling leaves off their trees, littering the ground with fall colors. When the sun comes out and shines a spotlight on these leaves, it's a visual smorgasbord, tickling the senses. It also means I must pay close attention to every foot placement, the rocks and roots covered by leaves.

I let my thoughts fly along with us. I'm laughing inside at Finn's antics, thinking about an article I'm writing, coming up with ideas for new articles - all while noticing the sounds and sights surrounding us.

Some of my best ideas come to me while running trails. The trick, of course, is remembering them when I get home!

Suddenly, however, my mind begins wandering to darker thoughts, of mean people. I don't want this distraction. Chastising myself for allowing those thought to intrude on such a perfect morning, I start chanting to myself: "Bad thoughts go way; bad thoughts go away." Not a minute later, I spy a big, happy black dog well down the path. He's at a trail juncture, unsure which way to go. Then I see his person, running up behind him.

Finn and I stop, waiting to see which route they choose. They start down the trail toward us. I try to read the body language of both dog and human, deciding whether to let Finn run up and greet, or hold him back. The black dog and his human, a young woman, are both so joyful in their movements, I let Finn go.

The dogs greet, and the black dog - tall and lean and quick - recognizes a good game of chase afoot. He dashes off, down the trail, Finn it tight pursuit. The woman and I stop a few feet from each other, watching with broad smiles, backing a foot or two off the single-track trail into the ferns to give the dogs space and they race back and forth. We're both giggling as we watch the dogs play their game of chase with pure delight, saying how they must cover two to three times the distance we do on these trail runs.

I love these random encounters with other dog lovers.

"How old is your dog?" I ask.

"About one and a half," the woman replies. She's maybe twenty-five, sparkling blue eyes and white teeth brightening her smiling face. Clearly she's happy to be in the forest with her dog on this gorgeous autumn day, as I am with Finn.

The black dog decides the game should end, slowing down near the woman. Finn wants to keep playing, so I call him to me. "Finn - game's over; come!"

The woman has a mischievous look as she asks me, "What's his name?"

"Finn," I say. "What's your dog's name?"

"Huck!" she responds with a hearty laugh.

We both head off in our original directions, our dogs joining us, smiling just as we are, happy to be free and active and playful. Happy to meet, however briefly, others who get it.

The bad thoughts? Completely banished. Life is good.
Rebecca WallickComment