Holly Ave., Cottage Grove

The big wheel keeps on turning (proud Mary keeps on burning), but it’s hard to remember that sometimes in the dark mornings of January. Like it will never be light during early walks ever again. But then one day late in the month you climb up the hill on Holly Ave. and see the faintest of gray streaks in the eastern sky and by the time you get home at 6:45 you in your dark jacket and hat and the little black dog are no longer invisible ninjas slinking through the gloom, and everything is a little brighter.

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Holly Ave., Cottage Grove

Sleep is a well-known prophylactic against illness. Jones has stayed perfectly well all winter so far, no doubt due to his robust sleep regimen. Want some armor against the flu plague cutting a swath through your community? Get more sleep. Also, exercise. In the ongoing combat against seasonal crabbiness and the forces of despair, you really want both of them on a regular basis. But riddle me this, pilgrim: when the alarm goes off at 5:15 which one will you choose?

Sunrise Estates, Cottage Grove

After a keto-friendly breakfast of last night’s pork roast bits, slow-cooker juice, and congealed fat, Jones was ready for a pre-dawn walk through the neighborhood. Although he loves bacon as much as the next person, and really who doesn’t want a taco bowl made on a bed of pork rinds instead of corn chips? But he doesn’t go in much for your fad diets. Weight loss, meh. It’s a young dog’s game. Dry kibble of uncertain origin? Sure. If it appeared in his bowl or was left on the floor, he would be willing to eat most anything. Grapefruit and hardboiled eggs. Raw food. Juice fasts. Cabbage soup. Low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium. Flexibility is the key.

River Road, Cottage Grove

Jones has superhero levels of hearing when it comes to after-dinner snacks. He can be upstairs buried under the duvet and still hear the tiniest snap of a surreptitious cracker for Ramona in the kitchen. Then sure enough, you hear the thud of his paws as he jumps off the bed and then his trip-trap down the stairs. But at six in the morning, he reverts to a mortal and becomes suddenly deaf. No whistle or entreaty can penetrate his resolve to avoid a walk. I had to carry him down the stairs and then nudge him toward the front door. Once we were out though, it was cool.

Trestle Falls, Umpqua National Forest

When you are low to the ground like Jones and hiking on all fours, I wonder if you notice the steepness of the hill as much as a taller homo erectus. Something to do with physics, no doubt. He seemed unfazed by the climb but of course he didn’t have 30+ pounds of girl and gear on his back to emphasize the point. Regardless, there were wows all round when we reached the upper falls cascading 60 feet into the mossy grotto below. The trail goes behind the waterfall, which is very exciting, very pirate cave–and excellent footing, fyi–but Jones was less of a fan. He doesn’t like to be dripped on.

Cat poop consumed: no

South River Road, Cottage Grove

The marquee in front of Cottage Grove High School (Home of the Lions) scrolls much helpful information, including SPRING SPORTS DESSERT MAY 25 IN THE CGHS CAFETORIUM, and man, it’s hard to keep one’s ironic distance, even with a word like cafetorium that begs for snark. I attended high school, naturally, but worse, I worked at one for seven years, and I continue to be grateful that I no longer have to, especially now that schools routinely have a room called the “cafetorium.” In my day, we had the multipurpose room and we were glad to have it!

Cat poop consumed: no

Mount David, Cottage Grove

Ramona used to be so reliable up here. You could take off the leash and she’d stay close, come when you called. But now she is genuinely deaf, so when she starts wandering in the wrong direction toward the golf course side of the hill, and you’re all Ramona Ramona Ramona, while wrangling a toddler who is determined to hike in the opposite direction, it’s not so easy. Like Frost’s fences, leashes and backpacks make for well-managed dogs and children.

Cat poop consumed: no