Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Homeward Path




On this early morning, a thin layer of ice covers the pond. Before breakfast, a crow tests it cautiously. I bundle up for a walk with Barley and we are off for the hollow, the sun illuminating our breath and bringing out the highlights in Barley's golden coat.

We follow our familiar trail at first, but where it forks, we head down a path I haven't been on much since the ice storm of January, 2009. I used to walk this way a lot, with other dogs. Our 2 Yellow Labs knew our trails well. In fact, Baxter had a tremendous instinct for finding her way around the woods. Whenever I got off the path, all I had to say was, "Baxter, we're going home", and she'd take me right back to the trail. It's good to follow a dog who knows the way home. Barley is new to this route, but he is imprinting all this information, and soon will know his way around the woods better than Don and I do.

We wind our way through trees and deadfall, only guessing where the path used to be, until we get to the winterberry trees, which still stand just south and west of the spot where the path used to slope down sharply into the hollow. Deer had bedded under those trees recently, and a well worn deer path follows our old trail from the trees to the hollow.

In the hollow, we stand and listen to the quiet. Barley's breathing is the only sound at first, then there's the beat of wings, and soon songbirds rise from the undergrowth, flying away as we advance. Cardinals flash their crimson feathers, and juncos flare their black and white tails like pleated skirts.
We head for home, Barley running ahead. When I get back to the yard, he's already there waiting for me. At my approach, he stands up, wagging his tail in welcome. It reminds me of another homecoming.

My mother died 3 years ago, and the memory is still fresh, of Mom, in her bed, looking small and frail, her family gathered around her. We held her hands and talked about treasured memories, and sang her favorite hymns. When we got to "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", she flew away to heaven, following the One who knows the way home. And when she got there, I like to think He stood to greet her.



I am the way...


First posted on 12/8/10

23 comments:

Linda R. said...

What a heartwarming story. And such a beautiful story.. Thanks for sharing it with us...

Horst in Edmonton said...

Love the photo of your beautiful dog. He looks so intelligent in this pose.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Beautiful dog that Barley is and your walk in the brisk winter's light, sounds refreshing.
Sweet memories...how they linger. I was blessed with a sweet momma too, and I shall always remember her with such a great fondness and longing, yet I know how the story shall end;~)

Pat said...

Beautifully written. I'm left with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Marcie said...

Absolutely beautiful - both the memory of your mom..and the gorgeous image of your sweet pup!

Don Smiley said...

What a deep and meaningful memory. Thank you for it.

S. Etole said...

So much bittersweet beauty in this. What a lovely photo.

justine said...

what a great story and I love your dog, your two labs would like my two labs!

Rosemary Aubut said...

Great photo and wonderful heartfelt memory!

lisa said...

What a beautiful post Connie, and truly a wonderful tribute to your Mom.

Your photograph of Barley is just gorgeous. Beautiful tones, and such a handsome fella!

Thank you so much for sharing with us this week at The Creative Exchange.

Have a wonderful day!

lisa.

Kathy said...

What a regal looking pup you have there. Gentle and regal.

Kathy

Jennifer Richardson said...

your world
and your heart...so beautiful.
thanks for sharing your sweet pup
and wanders
and wonders of your mom
as her heart lifted off towards
home.
what a greeting you'll receive
when you get there:)
-Jennifer

Gary said...

Great dog and beautiful photo!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Lisa said...

Lovely shot of Barley on a winter day. He's a very handsome pupper. My heart goes out to you as you remember your mom. I like to think as we are sad to say, "there (s)he goes," the other side is rejoicing and shouting, "Here (s)he comes!"

Rosie said...

What a wonderful story and beautiful photo!

Martha Z said...

Beautiful companion and they never seem to lead us astray.

Leanne said...

Labs are so clever & gorgeous aren't they?

Kia and Zeno said...

A beautiful and heartwarming story! :) And what a lovely capture of Barley :)

Kim Stevens said...

What a beautiful photo of Barley, and I adored your story to go with it!! ; )

myweekinfocus said...

What a beautiful post. What a lovely story of your Mom. Your dog is gorgeous and a beautiful day for a walk.

Lui said...

Oh Connie, you made me cry! Happy tears. I am lucky to experience happy goodbyes in my life. From my parents, friends who left, animals who bid farewell, and each moment is treasured and make us the special person that we are.

In good and bad times we must treasure the moment.

Btw, Sumo is well. For now. And I'm very very glad. We all say hello to Barley! ;-)

Pam said...

What a beautiful post! I'm so glad to have found your blog...you do such wonderful work! :)

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Wonderful post and photography.

Regards and best wishes