I used to walk with the dog, but her broken foot won’t permit that any more. It feels selfish to be glad about that — no more stopping to sniff every ten feet, to circle and ruminate on the rotation of bowels until I finally lose patience and give the leash a tug. I just want to walk, hands in pockets, podcast in ears, legs in steady rhythm.
Now that it’s November, my evening walk is dark. Now that I have no dog, my intentions are suspect, perhaps. Few people walk in my suburban neighborhood, and fewer still without sniffing, circling dogs. I’m one of the exceptions, but there are a couple others: a man with a long grey beard who trails cigar smoke out of the park; another who, like me, has wires sprouting from his ears. Still, at night, I am an anomaly.
There is just enough ambient light even without a moon to walk through the park without tripping over anything. My groove runs along a paved path. The other night a man with a stalled dog and a flashlight was surprised to hear me approach, a little freaked out, even. He shined the flashlight in my face.
A couple nights later, another encounter in the park, this time with a young buck. I stopped and we stared at each other for a while. We seemed to express equal amounts of surprise and wariness. He had a good set of antlers, powerful hoofs. I had, well, whatever mysterious powers humans might possibly have. I finally resumed my walk along the path, and he finally ran away, legs in steady rhythm.