Around the Block

I’m not yet used to earlier sunsets. It always takes me a few weeks to adjust when we turn back the clocks for standard time. On Friday afternoon, I was running around, trying to finish errands before sundown, which heralds our Shabbat observance, and just made it home as dusk settled. Whew.

Back to my desk on Monday, I lost track again, this time because I was immersed in my writing, only to realize it was nearly 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I had not yet walked Ginger. I should have taken her out when it was brighter and warmer after lunch, but she needed the exercise. I did, too.

So, despite the darkening, chilly fall afternoon (for me—others I passed were in fleece vests or zip-up jackets), I donned my down winter coat and a hat, clipped Ginger’s leash to her collar and headed out the door.

A lungful of fresh air immediately helped to clear my brain, woolly with words. Ginger paused by the huge pile of dried leaves in front of our curb to explore the many and varied, fascinating scents. Our walks take longer this time of year, until all the leaves have fallen and city streets are swept clean. I have to urge her to keep walking so my hands don’t go numb.

“That dog is amazing,” commented our neighbor, walking her puffy little pooch in the opposite direction. Our white-faced golden is 16, but still can pull me down the street if she has a mind to. My neighbor’s dog decided to lie down in the street and watch us, but Ginger, whose nose is better than her ears and eyes, ignored it and kept on snuffling, leading me slowly forward.

Around the corner, two boys in shirtsleeves shot hoops in a driveway. Everything glowed with a deep orange patina—the piles of rakings along either side of the street, the Norway maples that still clung to a few golden leaves, Ginger’s fur, the errant basketball that rolled across our path. “How are you?” asked the boy as he ran to retrieve it. We exchanged pleasantries, and he loped back to his game.

A friend wisely observed over the weekend that all the frightening headlines (Ebola! ISIS! Washington Gridlock! Climate Change!) that describe a world in seeming collapse don’t really square with everyday experience. Most people are good. Many strangers can be trusted. A 12-year-old boy can be polite to a woman walking her old dog around the block.

As we rounded the next corner and headed up a slight hill, the sky turned salmon and violet. For a few astounding seconds, the trees and leaves seemed infused with an etherial, rose light. If I hadn’t left the house with Ginger at the exact, too-late moment, kicking myself for forgetting about the time change, I would have missed it.

Home again, dark settling in, I rubbed Ginger’s ears and thanked her for inspiring me to get out of the house. Sometimes the best part of the day is the part you wanted to avoid.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at


  1. Connie Evans says:

    I can smell the damp leaves now! Thanks, Evie!

  2. I just stumbled across your site. I have to say you are braver than I. The change in season has brought on some really nasty changes in my illness. My lungs have decided now would be a good time to start fibrosing. I am new to all this as of two years ago I started with some crazy symptoms and a doc that said nothing could really be done but treat symptomatically. Been very depressed, if it wasnt for my dogs I dont think I would get out of bed. I hope I can still walk them and the lung problems dont make that impossible. I am scared, there isnt much information on sclero, much less the Sine form, that they say I have. It’s good to see people with the disease leading active lives, I hope to be one. Keep up the blog it gives us hope.

    • Hi Diana,
      Sorry to hear you’re having such a tough time right now. There are some excellent sites with a lot of information that you might find helpful. Please check out the Resources section of my blog. Both the Scleroderma Foundation and the Scleroderma Research Foundation have extensive information about the disease, treatments and ongoing research. I’m glad your dogs get you up and about. You’re not alone. Take care.

  3. Dan Barrett says:

    Hi again Evelyn, (Evie?). Just read your ‘About’ tab and I feel a bit ashamed that as someone without the illness and in pretty good health (for a 49 year old, newish 1st time parent that is) I don’t manage to do half what you do. Even with the usual human trait of dumbing down or brushing off a lot of what we manage, I’m still lagging waaaaaay behind you. So you and your very good site are an inspiration and that’s meant sincerely. I know very little (but learning more) about Scleroderma but my late mother had Lupus and Raynaud’s and I understand they’re all connected under the auto-imune umbrella.
    Will keep tuning in.

    • Thanks, Dan. I’m glad that you’ve found some inspiration here. Lupus and scleroderma can actually be confused at disease onset, before symptoms become full blown, so I’m sure you do understand much about all of this from your mother’s experience. One of the lessons I’ve learned from this disease–much as I would have preferred to gain the insight another way!–is to live each day fully. That becomes all the more important, the older I get. Best wishes as you grow into your role as a parent. One of life’s greatest experiences.

  4. Hi!
    I am so glad I’ve found your blog. You are a very relatable writer and I enjoy your candor and folksy style. Plus good info.
    I was reading your “About” page and have one question. I’m newly diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma (but I have been a long-time medical enthusiast!). I have had symptoms for 15 years but no one knew what it was because I would only complain about aches (never Reynaud’s or GERD).
    Anyway…on to my question: You say that your scleroderma was at first systemic but it turned to limited. It’s my understanding that systemic has two types, diffuse and limited. Did you mean that you started out with diffuse? Did your disease seem more aggressive at first but then calmed down? I’m just curious about your course.

    • Hi Sue,
      Welcome! I’m glad that you have found my blog helpful. To answer your question, I have limited systemic sclerosis. This version affects mostly extremities with some internal organ involvement. Diffuse systemic sclerosis affects the torso, as well, and can be extremely aggressive. My disease has progressed gradually over decades. Although it has gotten more complex with time, I’ve also had some reversal of skin thickening in my hands, forearms and face. My biggest challenge is chronic digital ulcers. Scleroderma manifests differently in everyone, so my experience is no doubt different from yours, although we have the same technical diagnosis. Hope this helps.

      • “In my case, what began as a slow but treacherous course of systemic sclerosis has evolved as the limited version of the disease-”
        Ah, yes, now that I read this sentence again, I see what you are saying. I thought you had said “evolved into.” Helps to read carefully.

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