Every morning, I rise and walk my lab Shadow to the path that lies just behind the houses across the street.
It takes me through golden fields and past oak trees, passing by the dark brambles of blueberry bushes and a floor of acorns.
As we walk, my feet carve a groove in the landscape. My path becomes a moving handshake with the earth.
It’s possible to see my morning walk along the same path as a monotone event, but that would be a misunderstanding. Each time I start down that well-trod path, I quietly interrogate the morning. Each day brings subtle changes to the landscape. The sun never rises in the same place twice, the quality of its light changing each day. The air sometimes whispers and sometimes shouts. Sometimes the sky is a blanket of blue, other days it’s dotted with white puffs and occasionally a misty fog coats the tips of the cattails.
Some days, the moon hangs among the stars, fading as the sunlight crests the Sierra foothills to the east. On other days, cloud cover dims the landscape. And other times, sun-inspired colors paint the clouds red, yellow and orange.
Every day, the inhabitants of the fields change. On one day, geese flock overhead in vees. If we arrive at the right moment between dusk and dawn, when the earth is bathed in shades of gray, we encounter small cottontail rabbits and an occasional long-eared jackrabbit. On another day, groups of wild turkeys wander through the sea of golden grass. Birds of all shapes and sizes fly by on different days – egrets, herons, blackbirds, hawks, seagulls, pelicans, ducks, cormorants and owls. Other animals we’ve encountered in three short months includes a coyote, two skunks and an otter.
The September oak trees have shed their green and the winds have stripped them down to their bones. The brown remnants of leaves have built small sculptures on the earth beneath the tree trunks.
Each day, as Shadow and I walk this path, I feel a rush of gratitude for this new day with whatever the path decides to bring us. It’s the same path every day, but every time we walk it, it takes me on a new journey. I can’t wait to see what the next one will bring.