Before I took my morning dog walk with the Roo Roo, I went to the den to spend a few minutes and catch up on some of my writing where I’d left off several months ago. I’d decided not to begin with my thoughts on the tragedies of the last few months: George Floyd’s death or the coronavirus. Our country has suffered with the Floyd family and the family of James Blair, as we needed to and should. Wiser, better informed folks than me are worth listening to about so much of this. And the coronavirus has changed our country and the world. I feel, perhaps naively, that someday soon science will destroy this horrible pestilence, which has lurked, darted, and struck so many, and the world will soon once again be overflowing with milk and honey.
So, instead of giving my unlearned opinion on life-changing, heart-breaking matters, when Roo and I got back from our trek, I would return to a hissing rattlesnake in Savannah, Tenn., explore the lay of the hillside, and then move forward.
To be on the safe side and to help spark my memory, I got out some notes I’d made some months back and then picked up my laptop. To my consternation, Fretting Fannie and I got nowhere; my brain and fingers were frozen—she was in a coma.
I plugged Fannie into a socket, hooked the Roo Roo to her leash, and the dog and I set off on our walk. This too, didn’t go according to plan. It was a glorious morning of green and gold, but the air was heavy with warm, damp breezes, like dog licks across the face and neck. Springtime had wound down; summer was here.
And as sometimes happens, there were a few missteps and glitches along the way. Close to the beginning of our trek down St. Andrews, two small, but territory-defending, dogs made a yapping, growling beeline for the Roo and me. We ran across the street, cut through a yard and managed to outpace and escape from them.
Back on St. Andrews, still catching my breath from that bevy of activity, all of a sudden, Roo Roo nose-dived, jerking her leash from my hand.
A squirrel; a squirrel, her kingdom for a squirrel!
The critter ran up a magnolia tree in Sis Holland’s yard. The Roo got tangled in thick, low limbs; the lucky squirrel lived to romp and play, another day. I, scrabbling on my hands and knees under thick, magnolia leaves and ivory-colored blossoms managed to grab Roo Roo’s leash.
My dog back in my hands and safe, both of us now walking on wobbly legs, the two of us made it home. I caught my breath, poured myself a cup of coffee and plopped into a lounge chair.
Frettin’ Fannie was now ready to go, but sometimes I think I have foot and mouth disease. Something had happened last week, that I couldn’t get off my mind and the first words that flew from my fingers weren’t of a Tennessee trip.
I was riding to the grocery store with daughter-in-law Gail and two of the great-grands, Maddie Sanford and Peyton Boggan. The three of them were in the middle of an intense discussion, something they had seen on TV, how we sometimes sense things even before we hear about them. As older people seem prone to do, I jumped in and took charge of the conversation with my true, touching, story about being on a riverboat trip some years back. I had a strong feeling that something was happening to my mother and as soon as the boat docked I ran to an internet café. As luck would have it, Brother Alvin, happened to be on line; our mother had been put in intensive care.
“Where were you?” Maddie asked.
An uncomfortable silence filled the car. “Lottie,” Gail giggled. “It was Prague. Prague, Poland.”
My mouth dry, I cleared my throat as Gail pulled into the Kroger parking lot. “That’s what I said. Prague. You all were talking, and I think you misunderstood me.”
Everyone quiet, the three of them got out of the car ahead of me, while I looked for my creative, doggie-pictured, face mask that a friend, Brenda Smith had made for me.
Not in the car. Must have left it at the house, I thought. Then, on the floor I spotted a lavender ball of fabric with blue straps. It not only covered my nose and mouth, it hung down past my neck. I reached to open the door, but it was locked. Pushing the unlock button, I jumped out of the car. For some reason, a child pointed as if she’d seen an alien creature, then I noticed a few other people looking at me. I stuck my nose up in a disdainful manner, and slammed the car door. As if I had commanded the car to blast out warning signals, the horn started honking. I hurried toward the store, noticing a few funny looks from people.
To my relief, after a few loud toots, the blaring stopped.
When I caught up with family, the three of them stepped back.
Peyton looked at me open-mouthed. Maddie pointed. “You’ve got Peyton’s bathing suit top on your face!”
“It covers my mouth and nose,” I said defensively. “That’s what matters.”
Gail hiked her eyebrows. “Why don’t you take a seat over there in the pharmacy department and wait on us? We won’t take long.”
Well, that was last week. One moment I was sitting in a grocery store pharmacy, legs shaking, sweat pooling under my arms, and now, a few days later, I’m back in my chair catching my breath from a dog walk, sitting on READY but not exactly ROCKING on go.
Sometimes I wonder if I even need to open my mouth, or put pen to page. When I was younger, I had so many answers. Now, I don’t have them anymore, just a few stories.
The laptop hums; Frettin’ Fannie’s come to life. I click her On button.
I hear a rattle and a hiss. I’m staring at a rattlesnake, in Savannah, Tenn.
Here's hoping it doesn't strike me as I march forward.