Your good dogs, some things that they hear
they don’t really want you to know —
it’s too grim or ethereal.
And sometimes when they look in the fire
they see time going on and someone alone,
but they don’t say anything.
Bill Schmidt sent this poem along from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. It is a touching work, especially for those who live their lives in the company of dogs.
A morning filled with errands. Took packages for New Years to the Anoka Post Office. It’s sure easier to mail stuff now than it was a week ago. Geez. Practically walked right up to the postal clerk. One clerk, on the other end of the counter, bald head and heroic biker beard, helped a man set up a General Delivery account. I looked at the man, fiftyish with black hair laid flat on his head. His used trench coat sagged with the bow of his shoulders. His pants looked polished from wear and the boots old. What had happened in his life?
At the library I donated several Teaching Company courses on audio tape. As I walked in with the sacks, I began to think about libraries, how important they’ve been to me at each stage of my life: a refuge in an Indiana small town, a place of scholarship during college and my two post-grad degrees, sources of reading material when my funds were low and most recently a source of audio books. There are two places in this world where I’ve always felt comfortable: Catholic churches and libraries.
Donating these courses made me consider charity. Charity always makes me think of Frank Broderick who seems to incarnate charity. I always feel less than in the presence of his generosity to others, less than because that’s not what I do. Then I thought, wait a minute. I’m not Frank Broderick; I’m Charlie. Charlie’s generosity focuses on his passions: art, libraries, dogs, gardens and, for some reason I can’t quite define, water. These are the places where my volunteer energy, cash and other resources go. And that’s just fine.
After this, groceries, where my stomach spoke to me down each aisle. Each time I saw an old food friend like cheese or chips or Kashi cereal my stomach growled and I felt deprived. The stomach has its desires, its attachments and communicates them; but, those are attachments learned over years of a certain kind of eating. The process I’m in now is one I’ve gone through before, reeducation. I’m reeducating my stomach to growl for lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes. To speak to me of yogurt, right-sized portions and sourdough bread.
A morning full of errands, and, of learning more about myself. A good morning.