We walked down the paved pathway. Dog and girl. Her red leash jingled. It was definitely not a gorge or even a forest, it was barely even a park. The path circled the perimeter of the tiny field and swing sets. We stopped midway and entered the secluded dirt path.
It wasn’t a hiking trail, just a dirt path lined with thin and thick trees. Their branches stretched out in all directions; I never could tell when one branch began and another ended, but their tips touched creating a dome of branches and leaves.
I unclipped the leash from her harness. In her younger years, she’d dart off in any direction, but in our old age we knew each other. She knew I’d let her wander off to smell and mark every rock, leaf, and tree. I knew she’d listen when I called her name.
We walked the trail once a month. On hot days the branches shaded us with their leaves, on cold days their leaves fell allowing the sunshine to bake us. My favorite days were during the windy seasons. The wind blew through the leaves and they flickered like tiny green birds. Their rustling sounded like rain, only gentler. This was our spot.
Lost in thought, I glanced around and found I was alone. I called to her and she scurried over like a squirrel. When we reached the end there was a clearing filled with dry bushes. It was unattractive on most days, but after a raining week the entire place was green and lush. My eyes watered at the sight of it.
Further along there was a slope leading to a river. Again, it was not a gorge, but a sewage outlet filled with a mixture of black sludge, fallen branches, and green algae. I lingered for a moment. The dog ran here and there smelling and peeing on everything. Eventually we headed back, but we were both reluctant to leave.
It wasn’t much, but it was our break. Our break from manfucated townhomes and a small eight-by-ten yard. Our senses smelled and watched something that wasn’t a prefectly trimmed hedge or luxury car driving from Walmart to the 99 cent store. It was our spot and it still is our spot.