• Aram Mitchell

thank dog almighty

I believe in fire and flow and muscle and wind. But belief is lonely without practice. My dogs hold me to a practice of elemental spirituality.

We drive to the end of Hope Lane. The snow banks are piled high where the plow has pushed the snowfall out of the way, making space to park. I lumber out of the car, fix spikes to the bottom of my big rubber boots, grab a bag for potential shits, then I release the hounds. I lift the hatch with a “Free dog!” and stand back to witness my favorite time of each blessed day.

That moment when their eight paws touch ground and there is a kinetic collision between fur and flesh and wind and earth. They’re off into the woods with nothing to hinder them but one solitary moment followed by the next. They are dedicated to what is right there.

I saunter after them into the woods, meet a few masked souls along the way, doing what we can to convey smiles with our eyes. The dogs and I will turn around at the Presumpscot Falls. I hear them first. Then notice the swiftening of the current of the river, then the pinch of the river’s banks and the flash of exposed rock. Then I stand above the falls themselves, at the confluence of anticipation and arrival, at the assembly of sound and sight. My spirit feeling the significance of both familiarity and, nevertheless, wonder.

I go out now for the crunch of ice underfoot. In the spring, for the feel of rain on my head. Year round for the sound of the click clacking saplings that stand like awkward sentinels swaying in their attempt to stay put. I look for a moment of dedication to what is right there, to the edge of the river brushing at the the toes of my rubber boots on a day when rainfall and snowmelt make it swell.

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