When life gets to be too exhausting at times, a long walk can do wonders. Doesn't matter if you're in town or the country. A good stroll or a power walk can take those stresses and worries and even them out to a manageable plateau.
We live in the country, and on our forty-five acres my husband has made trails through the woods that are perfect for a walk. Even more perfect, I could take our four Labs for a stroll without them having to be leashed. Had they been leashed, they would have been walking me.
And that's where this story begins. It was an overcast Saturday, work had been a 'bear' that week, and after three loads of laundry and cleaning out the bathrooms, it was time for a walk.
The doggies and I took off. Josie, Zoe, Grizz and Ben and I took the trail past our old run-down barn along the field and into the woods. As I walked and de-stressed, the dogs ran rampant over the woods sniffing, digging, terrorizing small animals.
As we found ourselves deeper into the woods, I took in the beauty around me and breathed in the fresh country air heavy with evergreen and wood. And as always, I felt safe. In fact, the thought of any danger never entered my mind on these long walks. After all, I had my four buddies with me. They would protect me to the death.
I was sure of it.
As we rounded the trail at the very far corner of our property, my four companions took off like a furry streak. It was like someone dropped a bomb and they ran for cover. Recognition set in that something wasn't right. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something black. I don't know what was more shocking - the bear, or the fact that the dogs gave me up for bait without a backward glance.
The bear let out a loud “ruff” that, I swear, shook the trees. I had always heard not to make eye contact. I don't know if that was for bear or another animal, but I kept my head down and proceeded along the trail at a quick pace, careful not to run and appear afraid. You know, once an animal smells your fear, you're done for. In retrospect, I guess you're supposed to make yourself look bigger by waving your arms and roaring back. Honestly, I cannot conceive of doing that without wetting myself.
Anyway, I kept walking and didn't dare look back until I reached the field. The bear had retreated into the woods and my loyal doggies, whom I thought of as extensions of my children, were nowhere in sight.
I trudged back to the house feeling lucky to be alive. Upon arrival, my dear buddies were all in the yard looking at me like, “what took you so long?”
I guess it was a good lesson in self-reliance. Either that, or the bear was feeling especially lazy and decided to let the human live another day. Or maybe, it felt sorry for me after my dogs dropped me like a smelly rag, a rotten potato, a moldy banana, a dirty worm. You get the picture.