My Own Meanderings Where I’m Wandering

That old familiar bite.

September 21, 2022

Where does time go?

Honestly, it feels like only last weekend my wife and I were on vacation. Yet, it was now over three weeks ago. And while we had a blast, we had some moments of consternation too. She had insisted we go away so we both could recharge. And truthfully, her insistence paid off. As always in our first year of marriage we are always learning about each other.

However, we both knew when we returned, my workload would exponentially increase. Classes were right around the corner. I needed to prep all that work, set up the learning system-as things are more tech based then when I first started teaching. And continue on so many projects I have going on—and have all summer. Thus, the main reason of my wife’s insistence we go away—even if only for a few days.

And it was exactly what I needed—it taught me a lot about myself, about us, and about my puppy/dog Bixie butt.

We stayed at a campground Airbnb, near Algonquin Provincial Park. In fact, it was a tiny home. While it was small, indeed tiny, it was exactly what we needed. There was a fire pit, the park to go and explore, and just the time together—even if in a cozy environment. We slept in, we made tasty food, and we walked or hiked about a few spots in our time there. We watched a sunset on a lake in the park—and it was glorious.

The small walk together

At one point, my wife said, “Let’s go for a hike.” We took the map that was merely a printout that was not that detailed. She loves nature—the woods and trees reenergize her in ways I had not seen before—she truly needs the green spaces about her to help center and restore her. Here’s the rub, so do I—though water bodies like lakes, ponds, and even rivers do help me a lot too.

So, I packed my backpack full of snacks, lots of water, and a couple blankets in case we wanted to lay in the sun and read. Back in the day, it would have been my ruck—and internally, I had doubts I could do what I used to do in the army—way back when. It has been 25-years since I carried a ruck.

We set out, and a couple of kilometers in, my wife informs me she wants to make it to the end of the trail—some thirteen kilometers away–one way. Now, I am still learning to do the math in my head of kilometers to miles-but I am thinking hmm, 13k is a long walk without my knee brace and likely the blisters that will surely result. And we had not brought snacks for Bixie—all around it was going to be tough on all of us.

To say I was grumpy and frustrated is to put it politely. We hiked some horse trails that wandered all about—and were not clearly delineated on the map printout we had. Yet, we kept walk—taking small breaks where I stewed silently—but loudly at the same time. My wife got grumpy with my grumpiness more than once on the “small walk.” The surliness eventually passed.

In the end, we walked a bit over ten miles that day.

Splash down, panic, and that old familiar bite

When we finally reached a critical point, we had come to a stream or creek—at least to me. My grumpiness was still present, but much more subdued. And splash down was about to happen. And internally, while the hike was tough on me, on my knee, and most definitely on my feet—I was determined to make it. In part, because once you walk out, you still must walk back—there is no other way around that simple truth. And I had an old habit from my army days kick in—counting my steps to focus on that rather than the creeping doubt wondering if I could make it—especially at age fifty-one.

In all those steps, I felt that old familiar bite of the pack/ruck on my shoulders. The straps dug in and it was an ache and sometimes a biting pain—particularly after a rest break. The doubt rages wondering what the hell you are doing in that moment—what was the sense in all of this—how is this fun, necessary, or anything other than literally a pain?

Then, that subsides a bit. And the ache becomes dull and even comfortable in some odd ways. For me, it was mostly a reminder that I am still capable, I am still a little tough, and that I do not have quit within me. I may grumble and even growl like I did on that small walk—but, there is a small part of me that enjoys it—even the pain. Because it means I am still alive.

My wife confessed after seeing the blisters that there was no quit in me—and indeed I was tough, albeit grumpy. I told her, at least in my day, we used joke as grunts, that if we weren’t b*tching, we weren’t happy.


But there was a moment on the walk, that will always make me smile. I wish I had caught it on camera. It will always be one of the fondest memories for me.

We had arrived at the creek or stream. Bixie had learned the joy of getting her toes wet the night before at the sunset on the lake. So, she dipped her toes in this small pool at the edge of the creek. But there was a rock embankment that Bixie butt decided to explore.  She casually walked up the small rock embankment to the edge—and was looking down at the water flowing by us.

I could see Bixie butt thinking about it—and my wife had been wondering if Bixie knew instinctively how to swim-or did dogs have to be taught how to swim. With little warning, but predictably, Bixie stepped off the rock embankment thinking it was shallow like the spot she had just dipped her toes into and drank from–so this spot must be the same–right?

Bixie plunged into the stream—which I suspected was deep. And as she plunged beneath the surface, her eyes grew into saucers with panic. My wife starts to panic as well. And Bixie surfaces and starts slapping the water with her paws, trying to learn to doggie paddle. Eventually she figured some of it out.

In my wife’s surprise and growing panic, she tightens the leash and is trying to pull Bixie out of the water back over the embankment by just the leash. This really only succeeds in pinning Bixie to the rocks; but Bixie continued to paddle and gets to a spot where she can place her paws on the edge of the embankment—taking deep breathes and resting clearly as she tried to figure out how to get out the jam she got herself into with that one fateful step.

I gently tell my wife to let the lead go—from the extended leash. I took a few steps and grabbed Bixie’s harness handle—and helped her out of the water. They both take a breath—and I heard in my head, “We are so glad we didn’t panic.” And they both let out a sigh, Bixie starts shaking all the water off, and I quipped to my wife, “Well, I guess that answers the question if swimming is instinctive for dogs—or not.” She laughed.

The laughter was wonderful. It was the release that my wife, I, and Bixie needed, and it made the trip back to our tiny home a bit easier and more pleasant. Even if my shoulders, feet, and knee ached, that moment of the splash down, panic, and comical timing made the pack lighter as it did my mood.

How will you find those moments that make your life lighter and even smile?



Kevin J. White
Toronto, CA