Sunday, June 1, 2014
WALKING WITH ROSEMARY
Leave only Footsteps, Chicago, IL
Fertilizing the Landscape, Chicago, IL
It occurs to me as the two of us walk along the tree lined urban neighborhood of Lakeview on the outskirts of Chicago that we should never lose our passion for appreciating the immediate environment we occupy like my grand dog Rosemary. She was stirring at first light as the early June sunshine broke into the bedroom window we share. Rosemary spends many hours during the day in quiet slumber and random wandering about the condo, especially in search of the vanishing locations with warm sunlight. But it’s those precious times of breaking out into the neighborhood that reveal endless wonders of God’s creation for her.
I rise from the night’s slumber and pull on my golf shirt and shorts as Rosemary impatiently anticipates our ritualistic morning walk. I’m reminded of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Steinbeck was dying of heart disease at the time and felt compelled to travel across America to comprehend the American psyche. He took along the family’s standard poodle, Charley, for companionship and to have someone for mental conversation to explore his thoughts. It's always revealing to view the world through the unbiased and unfiltered eyes of an innocent.
We exit onto the sidewalk and begin our journey of exploration, mainly through the fascinating experience of investigating the hidden world of smells. Rosemary has already mastered the CSI methods for analyzing the subtle traces of those critters that have gone before us in the night, as we have gotten the jump on them by venturing out so early on a Sunday morning. This is mostly by design, as Rosemary is very defensive of her personal space, which occupies about half a block’s worth of real estate in all directions. Intruders beware!
I learned early in my own travels that you can only know a city or any location by walking the streets and byways. So, Rosemary and I search out every back alley and turn in the road. Locals have sculpted small pocket gardens in the precious land fronting their greystones and brownstones along these Midwestern streets. A harsh winter has finally relented to more pleasant weather this morning as we pass the fresh green shoots of new grass and flowering urban plants. Rosemary does her best to fertilize the landscape, conscientiously rationing the precious deposits to mark our passing. I unsheathe a plastic bag designed for the purpose and gather up the number two deposits in a responsible gesture of neighborly love. Thankfully, Rosemary is a small dog. Our crusading mantra is to “take only memories, leave only footsteps.”
Our wanderings are full of curiosity and respect for our surroundings. A calico cat from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats wanders outside in a gated yard and Rosemary issues a sharp bark to validate the intrusion of our sacrosanct space. The calico doesn’t acknowledge our claim and moves on without even flinching, knowing the decorative iron fencing is impenetrable. I suspect Rosemary knows this as well as she bristles with righteous indignation. A large black ant abandons caution and aimlessly wanders across our path along the shaded sidewalk. Rosemary investigates and unceremoniously eats it.