(Host) Commentator Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, educator, and inveterate walker who has lived in Vermont half her life and is still surprised and charmed by the unexpected kindness of small town life.
(Luskin) Every day my dog takes me for a walk. We have several routes, but the one we do most often takes us by the post office. I live only a half mile from the P.O., but there’s a four-and-a-half mile loop that takes us by it twice, so we can deposit letters on the way out and collect the mail on our return.
Most of our route is on a dirt road, but there’s still enough traffic for me to wave to a dozen or so of my neighbors. Even if I can’t see through the tinted glass, I know most people by their cars; and even if I don’t, I wave anyway. Often, when I see people at some neighborhood function or even meet folks for the very first time, they tell me, “Oh, I see you walking your dog,” or “I passed you the other day,” or “You were a long way from home."
It’s true: the dog and I cover ground.
The four-and-a-half mile loop is the short one. When we have time, we have a six-mile route that takes us up to a lake; when we don’t have time, we do a three-mile walk along the river.
Depending on which walk we do, the dog and I are out from forty minutes to an hour and a half. This being Vermont, that means several changes of weather, especially in the spring, when weather is most unstable – and I’m most impatient to shed layers.
The other day was a case in point: When we left the house, the sky was bright, the air cool, the grass greening. I zipped on a single fleece and left my hat at home. We mailed some letters and continued along a dirt road, when the air turned suddenly dark, and colder. It started to rain.
I’m fairly indifferent to what most people call bad weather – when I’m prepared for it, but if there’s one thing I really dislike, it’s rain on my head. So the dog and I turned around and started to trot home.
It rained harder.
My neighbor Dave drove past, headed the same way. He waved.
I was pretty sure I’d find a discarded newspaper or magazine at the post office. Sure enough, there was a nice, thick catalog, which I used to cover my head. The woman who lives next to the post office saw me from her porch and offered to give me a trash bag for a poncho. I thanked her, but declined.
The rain turned to hail, and my hand holding the catalog in place was starting to freeze.
Dave was already on his way back. He stuck his arm out the window, waving what appeared to be my own red rain jacket. It was. He’d stopped by my house for it. He also offered me a ride, but with my hood pulled over my head, and a wet dog alongside, I turned him down.