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 livingwithscleroderma.com.