Friday, September 4, 2009

Melissa: A Morning Track

I stop and look. The huge field stretches before me, silvery-blue from the heavy dew, crystal drops poised on every blade of grass. The stalks all bend in graceful arcs under the weight and, when touched, drop the clean, clear water onto my shoes and pants. Soon I’ll be soaked to the knees, but I don’t care.

Tracking, for me, is not only a sport but also a meditative pastime. When I step into a field, I slip from the past and future fully into the present. Somehow, gazing over a field captures my thoughts and emotions and fills me full as I look and breathe.

I love laying tracks, the longer the better. I focus on the distant view when I pick two points to guide me in a straight line for each leg. Walking the leg, I then notice what’s near me–spider webs, the rustling of small animals, the details of terrain I would normally go around—swampy areas, stone walls—and thus see nature I might otherwise miss.

Today, though, Sarah has laid a track for Milo and me, and in the dewy grass the track shows bright green—not exactly a blind track, but still very good practice. Milo won’t pay attention to the green; he works with his nose.

We start out, and again, all else drops aside, I am fully in the moment, in sync with my dog. Milo leans into the harness, tail wagging joyfully, and I follow. He hesitates, I stop, waiting and handling the line while he checks to be sure he’s on the track. Soon he pulls forward again and I follow.

My attention almost completely on my dog, I notice his every movement, every bob of his head, every brief slowing of pace. I’m a beginner, so I don’t always know how to respond, but each time I track, I read Milo more clearly and feel a bit more confident. For me, there’s no comparable experience, and as we finish the track, I’m brimming with the good feeling of being in close partnership with my dog and in close communion with the beauty of nature.

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