The other morning, while I was taking photographs of wildflowers by the edge of Thorne Pond, autumn’s approach could be seen, but more importantly, it could be felt. The brisk air, the stirring breeze, that primal scent even we humans can pick up that tells us to get ready for the next chapter of the year.
When I stood, I did so cautiously, because I’ve been known to get dizzy, and sometimes even faint, since my extended sickness last spring, and perhaps because of the handful of pills I take each day aimed to ease the workload of my heart.
When I stretched out to full length, what I saw was better than any prescription given to me by my cardiology team. Samwise was sitting on the top of the bowl that rises above the pond’s eastern edge, as calmly as can be. In front of him was a young great cormorant about twenty yards away in the water. My young friend, now nine-months-old, was sitting contentedly, silently, soaking in the scene. He wasn’t ready to spring. There was no barking. No whining. There was only a growing pup watching nature play out in front of him.
|Samwise A. Passaconaway watching a young great cormorant.|
Whenever I see him do this, and he does it often, sometimes looking at ducks, beavers, or otters, I wonder where his poise comes from. Then there are the times when he’s not looking at anything but the scenery. A field of wildflowers, the reflection of a mountain in the pond, a passing river.
I’ve learned many lessons through my friendships through the years, and that includes friendships with souls with four legs. Our lives grow and evolve because of the friends we make along the way. Like chemicals, we cannot help but be transformed when we’re joined with another. And one of the things I’ve learned through Max and Atticus and Will through the years is that individuals exist in all species, in all breeds. But as I note this, and take inventory of Samwise’s growth as a young dog on his way to finding out who he is, I can’t help but think of Atticus, who used to do the same thing while out in nature. He’d sit and ponder. Flora, fauna, clouds, it didn’t matter. I used to think of my late friend as a philosopher.
But here is Samwise, young and energetic and full of puppy happiness, displaying the same trait. That, and how he behaves on the trails when we hike together reminds me very much of Atticus, but he doesn’t have too much else in common with him.
But what a joy that he has this sense of wonder to him. It fills me with joy to know that he and I can sit together for a long while pondering the world in front of us. The philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I think he was on to something. Heck, take a smart phone away from a person waiting for anything and more often than not they are lost without the distraction.
I know part of the metamorphosis from my old hectic life, was that there came a time when I could finally sit still and in peace. But it wasn’t easy at first.
What I enjoy is watching non-human animals do it. It seems to come easier to them. Atticus, Samwise, heck, in past years I’ve taken photographs of Aragorn, a growing male bear sitting fifteen feet away from us in the backyard. As Atti and I watched the butterflies, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds, so did Aragorn. Wonder permeated whatever separates three species, and we all took communion together.
That’s what I thought of when I saw Samwise watching this morning, and every other time I witnessed his stillness, wonder captures us all. It doesn’t matter how many legs we have, or if we have wings. In the wild, in these mountains of New Hampshire, there is a common thread that binds us together and its name is Nature. And that gives us all the more reason to protect and preserve this land and see that it remains unspoiled.