A Reflection on Gratitude Found in Small Moments

By: Betsy Pownall

In the morning, I read the paper. I read about a bank imploding, gun violence, intelligence leaks, and now it is time to walk Lulu. Lulu, our 6-year-old Chocolate Lab, is an urban dog from a hunting lineage. She came into our lives the week after the 2016 Presidential Election.

We head onto the forest path beside our house and I am alert for sound and movement. Last year a doe and her fawn nested in the forest when the plums in our tree were ripe. They ate the plums by day, slept in the forest by night. 

One morning, the doe ran toward us, head down. Lulu panted, tail up, ears perched, a warning tug on the leash. I gripped the leash, and said to Lulu “stay with me, stay with me’, (salami helped). We steered a wide berth around her. The doe slowly backed up. Crisis averted.

We walk down the hill toward the easement. On either side of the easement is a fence and behind one fence is a hound, the other a dog. We are a block away and they start baying and barking. This lasts as we walk through the easement (Dog Aisle) and ceases when we are on the other side. Lulu ignores them. 

When she was a puppy I had to carry her through Dog Aisle; she was terrified, literally shaking. Now she is 70 pounds and indifferent. (Who she cares about is a tiny dog behind a big fence on another easement, who barks and digs at the fence. Lulu barks and digs back, and I have to intervene. Is it the high-pitched bark? Small dog scent? Both? I don’t know. It’s really annoying.)

We come out to a street that winds up a hill which we walk up, we will turn at the top of the hill, meander through neighborhoods, and home. 

Today there is a large flock of wild turkeys on the corner near the hills crest. Three strutting Toms are fanning their tails which are stippled with blue, red, white and black. 

Since she was a puppy Lulu and the turkeys have peacefully co-existed. Today the Toms are paying attention to her, staring and fanning them. I don’t trust it. We walk across the street and continue up the hill. 

This is the same corner where, during the 2020 McKenzie River fires, a cougar was sighted at 9 in the morning. Wildlife was driven off the mountains, confused by the smoke, the ash, and the scent of fire. 

All year there were many random sightings of bear, cougar, fox, more than normal deer and turkey. It’s partly why I carry my flashlight. It feels good having it in my hand, even though it is false security.

There are others out, we know each other as morning walkers. We wave, say a quiet ‘hello’, and nod, but never engage in conversation. There is a silent agreement~this  is a sacred time of day when we all must pay close attention to the present moment, to our surroundings, and breathe deeply.

An hour later, we return home. The newspaper folded up on the chair,  it’s time to get ready for work. My phone screen has a list of notifications from CNN, the Washington Post, and Twitter. The bank is still imploding, guns still create violence, and intelligence is still leaking. After my urban walk with Lulu, who has hunting ancestors, I feel refreshed.