Friday, November 29, 2013

Today's poem by Mary Oliver

If you have accumulated any years you know what it is like to say, ‘why didn’t I do that ages ago?’ When we found our house, it was perfect in every way except that there was an old dirt road just feet away from the house, and it went up two-tenths of a mile to an old abandoned farmhouse/ski lodge. We owned both sides of the road but we did not own the property at the top. And because this road was a ‘town road’ people could drive right by our house and head on up the hill. There weren’t cars very often, but it was honestly a bit more nerve-wracking that way. We never knew when a car would come. For many years it was always a worry in terms of our dogs. Even when we bought the land up above, there were still occasional cars until word got around that the upper land was no longer available to all and sundry who were out for a drive. Yet still there was the UPS truck, and people making wrong turns, and the oil man, and our friends who would drive up. And if Sadie (or the dogs who are now gone) was out, it was troublesome.

A few years ago, we suddenly came up with the brilliant idea to fence in the area off the kitchen, which meant we could open the kitchen door, let the dogs out, and not have to worry. A whole world of calm opened up to me. Sadie has no leash, and indeed not even a collar. She heads out from the picket-fenced yard into the big north pasture which is surrounded by an electric fence. 

So, this particular poem from Mary Oliver means a lot to me. The drawing accompanied the poem.

If You Are Holding
This Book

You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world -
and there are plenty - very near the top of
the list is this one: dogs without leashes.

Mary Oliver - Dog Songs 2013


  1. I remember those days when I was a child and we didn't have leash laws. Dogs were free to roam. Many were run over by vehicle traffic but dogs were so free then. It is such fun to take Annie to the park where she can run off leash. Dogs are so beautiful when they can run full tilt and not have to worry about traffic. Love your header photo. Of course Mary Oliver is a treat too.

    1. Our 'town dog' was Victor. He belonged to the owners of the little grocery store on Main St (which is happily still there and thriving!), and had a regular walk through town. It almost seems to me that leash laws appeared after he died, at a ripe old age. I suspect the officials knew there would be no stopping him. :<)

  2. We go back and forth about walking Annie off her leash. Usually, it isn't a problem. She's so well-behaved and will stop in her tracks if I say, "Wait!" She almost always obeys my command even if she sees a squirrel. Sometimes, though, if she spots a rabbit she can't help herself. And she never minds me if she sees a cat. So, it can be a little stressful, especially if there's a lot of traffic on our street when the elementary school lets out. I tend to put her on her leash more than Rod does, but in the early morning when we walk to a small park, I let her run and it makes me smile to see her galloping along with pure happiness. When we take her to Colorado, she runs with the other dogs and they all look so content.

    This was the first poem I read in this collection. I'm glad you decided to give the book a chance. :)

    1. It wasn't that I didn't want to give it a chance, it was because I didn't want to read poems about dogs dying. I still may have to skip over a few of them.
      I think dogs just accept what is. She may enjoy Colorado, but I'm sure she enjoys her little park as well. The miracle of dogs.

  3. Oh my
    I read Mary Oliver almost daily
    and never saw this poem before.
    Now living in the woods
    Callie getting older
    I let her out 4 times a day
    she runs and then comes back to door
    to come inside with me.
    In the summer it is in the secured deck or screen porch.
    A lot of critters in my woods.
    Nan, thank you...

    1. It's a new book! I love reading about Miss Callie.

  4. I have never read Mary Oliver. I know I would like her after reading this. We passed a yard the other day when it was bitterly cold and there was a dog tethered to a tree, no shelter in sight, no water bowl near. I hope he was only out there a short time but I doubt it.

    1. That's so upsetting. I can't bear to think about it.
      More of Mary Oliver here under the poems tab, under the blog header pic.

  5. Your dogs have (or had) the perfect life - free to roam, free to run, loving humans who look after them, other animals to make friends with. Lovely!
    Steve and I spent many a summer holiday in Scarborough, England. We loved walking along the clifftop path and looking down at the beach. I remember how one day we were watching some people with several dogs. The dogs were let off the leash, and then they just ra, and ran, and ran - they looked so happy! Watching them nearly brought tears to my eyes, it was one of those moments in time that, for some strange reason, touch us deeply and stay with us forever.

    1. Such a wonderful memory to have. Thank you for telling me about it.

  6. This one went straight to my heart, Nan. Thank you. - J.


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