I began with the best intentions when I walked Maria the other day.
I cleared my mind of grocery lists, crabgrass removal, our daughter’s mounting school deadlines. I strolled along and welcomed the day.
That worked for a few blocks.
Next thing I knew, I puzzled over dinner. Didn’t I just make chicken and pasta last night? Hasn’t Maggie decided she’s tired of asparagus? Did Cliff tell me he couldn’t look another salad in the face? They both like vegetable soup. Do I have potatoes?
How many times, by the way, should a lawn service have to spray for crabgrass? For two years we’ve professionally chased this stuff, and it’s still there. If Cliff mentions poisoning the water table one more time…
Why on earth was Maggie playing some neon-light-show game on her phone last night? She has to give her senior speech at the end of the month, and she said she had the first sentence in mind. FIRST SENTENCE? Are you kidding me? Does she have any idea what it will take to hold the attention of a packed auditorium? Okay, I know high school kids would see a one-sentence speech as a gift, but still. And what about her college admission essays? Does she even have a first sentence for them?
By this point, I’d picked up the pace considerably. I yanked Maria all over the place.
“No, that squirrel won’t come down the tree for you.”
“The cat is busy. Forget it.”
“It’s just another hosta. It doesn’t smell better than the last one.”
As I pulled, she pushed her head even deeper into the leaves.
“Funny isn’t it,” a woman watering her garden said to me. “I used to wonder why my dog was interested in a patch of grass or clump of plants. It drove me crazy. I thought I’d never get home from every walk.”
A kindred spirit. I agreed. Who did Maria think she was anyway?
“Then one day a neighbor watched me hurrying with my dog and mentioned that plants were like their newspapers. They get all kinds of news that doesn’t interest us one bit,” she continued.
I’d never thought of it that way. Maria had her reasons, too, for enjoying a walk. Those hosta leaves were her entertainment section, political cartoons, daily horoscope.
Who was I to think the paw prints of a rabbit weren’t compelling commentary? (They beat my crabgrass obsession any day.) If I walked to clear my mind, despite my brain’s chattering struggle, it stood to reason Maria had her reasons, too. A constant napper, she didn’t need to empty her mind. She needed to fill it.
Those green edges held the scents of chipmunks for following, children for petting, birds for chasing. The wonderful stuff of her dreams.
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