When you think of a walk around the neighborhood, you probably think of walking past houses on a sidewalk, right? Not here in Maine! Our favorite “walk around the neighborhood” involves climbing a large hill or a small mountain, take your pick. We head up the driveway, hang a right, walk about a quarter of a mile on our private dirt road, and head into the woods. This next stretch is the trickiest part, and the reason I always carry a hiking stick.
I concentrate hard on Quan’s movements in the harness as he ascends the hill. He zigs and zags and pauses to let me know of big steps up or drop-offs. When he stops, I probe ahead with my hiking stick to get an idea of how far up or down my next step will take me. I also use the hiking stick for balance.
We emerge from the woods into a large field which was logged about five years ago. This is the easy part. There are nice flat, wide gravel roads to walk on. Lots of small spruce trees are coming up where the land was logged. I investigated one of these trees and discovered they’re being pruned for Christmas trees. Interesting.
Jim and I learned, many years ago, that when we hike together, it’s a lot safer if I lead. That way he can let me know of upcoming dangers such as drop-offs. It especially works better when I lead with Quan because he’s a little competitive. When Jim gets in front he pulls – hard! We proceeded along the dirt road and suddenly Jim stopped.
“There’s a bald eagle in a pine tree over there.”
He had our other two dogs, Soldier and Lukas, so he handed over their leashes and ventured forth to get pictures. Just before he walked away he said, “There are two of them now.”
And then the eagles called. In the absolute silence atop the mountain, it was a thrilling sound.
When Jim rejoined me, we continued, me in the lead. Quan turned left at the exact right place and we began the final ascent. I stood in awe at the grandure before me. Apart from an occasional breeze, it was absolutely silent. Jim described what he could see. “There are the mountains of Acadia National Park,” and, “Oh, I can see Blue Hill too.” He brings my imagination into the experience through his descriptions.
When we’re ready, we head home.