Hunting Season With Lenore

Lenore on our walk today
Lenore on our walk today

Like those sporadic fireworks that people set off the week before the Fourth of July, the gun fire  in Washington County gets more frequent just before hunting season starts.  So there’s always some warning for people like me who know it’s coming but aren’t exactly sure when.   When I heard the gun shots in the distance as I loaded the donkey feeder with hay this morning, I was reminded that this is the first weekend of hunting season.

What hunting season means to me is that for about two weeks I won’t be taking walks in the woods.  Jon and I will be walking the dogs on the road.   Some people won’t even do that without an orange vest and hat during hunting season, but I choose to be paranoid about other things in my life (like not leaving my closet door open at night, you never know what light sensitive creature might be hiding in there) and take my chances on the road.   It also means Lenore and I won’t be taking our hikes together in the woods behind the house.

These hikes have become something special to me.  Lenore, who has the appropriate reputation of being the Love Dog, a cute and cuddly, food focused,  not so bright Lab, becomes a different dog on our walks together.

In the woods, when it’s just me and Lenore, she becomes my spirit dog.  We connect in a way I haven’t seen her connect with anyone else.    She doesn’t want to lick the backs of my knees (like she is constantly doing in the house) or chase a ball or look for a treat.  She doesn’t follow me or walk at my side.  She becomes her own dog, a wilder dog.   No longer the Love Dog  she wanders the woods, within sight or at least hearing of me and does what she does.  And I don’t really know what she’s doing, but it feels to me likes she’s in her most natural state.  Running, sniffing, eating she becomes a chronicler of the woods. Taking it all in, getting to know it as only she can.

On these walks it’s as if we’re walking together but in our own worlds.  Experiencing the same thing in completely different ways. It’s as if there’s a thin spider web between us, keeping us connected.    We walk  with the confidence that the other will never be far way. If I stop for longer than a few minutes she waits for me. But she waits  at a distance, she doesn’t snuggle or even want a reinforcing scratch behind the ears.  She seems more serious, focused and driven.

And there’s a level of trust I have with Lenore on these walks that I haven’t had with any other dog.   My solitary walks in the woods have always been healing and expanding to me.   if I had to worry about her running off  or making demands of me, it wouldn’t work.  But somehow Lenore seems to know exactly what I need.  And I trust that she’ll know.

Lenore enters into my walks like a spirit making my connection to the woods deeper,  as if she’s the link between me and nature.     It’s as if we both understand what it is we’re there to do.  To have the freedom to wander, stop and go as we please, to get to know the woods around us and to become a part of it for just a little while.

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20 thoughts on “Hunting Season With Lenore

  1. This is a beautiful, soothing piece to read. Wonderful post. You’re a great writer!( I know I say this all the time…)
    I have the exact same closet issue!!!!! I feel just the same way! But I must also have the doors pulled during the day. Some creatures could still be in there from the night before. Too risky.

  2. I so relate to this Maria. We do walk in the woods still, because hunting is forbidden where we walk. But there will always be those who flout rules and we are always more cautious and aware. I really like your description of Lenore’s walk and her understanding of your needs. And your understanding of hers! there is something grounding about walking the woodland trails with your dog.

  3. This is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing it, Maria. It reminds me of my walks with my dog, Bailey. He was a mixed breed lab with a wonderful calm manner. It always made me sad when hunting season started because we couldn’t walk in the fields at that time. Bailey lived to be 16, he was a great dog. In January it will be 2 years since he died. I still miss him and at times sense his presence

  4. Count me in on the closet-door-must-be-closed-at-night train, and my very fearless and incredible mother was the same way.
    I felt like I was right with you on the woods walks with Lenore…..how wonderful to have that relationship, so freeing, and yet the trusting bond is strong. Beautiful!

  5. I used to hike every weekend in the Black Hill of South Dakota with my black lab Luke – you described him exactly with your take on Lenore. I never worried that he would take off on his own – he had to keep me in his sight at all times. Sadly he passed away 5 years ago and I now hike in Wyoming on my own – need to get a black lab puppy to start again 🙂

  6. Lenore sounds likes she comes from the same stock that my past labs came from. Get them in the woods and fields and they check out every smell within a 60 foot radius yet have radar signals that identify where you are at all times. enjoyed your post — barbara

  7. Maria, your artistry goes beyond fiber arts. You are also a writer. The image you create of the connection between you and Lenore as if there is a “thin spider web” between you, keeping you connected is so visual; it paints a picture of an ethereal world inhabited by two beings of different species, connected in a spiritual way. One can see the two of you, each walking your own path, doing your own thing, linked together by an invisible thread. I always tell my students that it is important to remember that a writer is an artist. Some artists create with paint, crayons, pencils, and like you, fiber. Writers paint pictures with words. The words should be so expressive that the reader could almost draw what the writer paints. It is the image that allows us to see into the soul of the writer. You are that kind of artist; that kind of writer. Thank you for sharing.
    Have a beautiful day.
    Jane

    1. Jane, I see the picture in my head first then the find the words to fit it. I’m not always successful at describing what I see inside my mind,but I saw the spiderweb very clearly and like you said it felt very spiritual to me. Wish I had you for a teacher.

  8. Even though I have no dog of my own I can really relate to this post. I care for one or two dogs like this where we connect at this level. I felt as if I was walking with both of you as you described it.

  9. Maria, you are, as others have said, a beautiful writer, and I, too, loved the imagery of that “thin spiderweb” connecting the two of you on your walks in the woods.

    It’s funny, because I often describe the similar relationship between myself and one of my dogs, Tucker, as an invisible umbilicus. Wherever I am, wherever we go, he is not far from me, and although in certain situations he wears a leash, (walking next to busy roads, etc. or where off-leash dogs are not permitted), it really is not necessary. He will stay near or in sight of me at all times.

    Of course anyone who reads your blog or Jon’s knows how strong a bond you share with Frieda, but it’s lovely to read more about your relationship with Lenore as well. I have been captivated by Lenore since her puppyhood, and her face (and clearly her spirit) is as sweet as it was then. Thank you for sharing this story.

    1. I can’t walk with Frieda in this way Brooke, she’ll run off and go hunting. But it’s like you said, different relationships with different dogs and both very powerful.

  10. Hi Maria, I enjoyed this post a lot. You described very well something I also notice with my dog Momo! When we’re at house in the suburbs and I take him for a walk, he drags his feet after 30 minutes. But in the fields around our farm house, he is so alert and enthusiastic!

    Also, have you read Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy (Golden Compass, etc)? In that series, the every person has a daemon which is usually manifested as an animal form and there is a bond between the person and his or her daemon. Like your web!

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