For the record, my plans for last night called for me to be nibbling hors d’oeuvres and schmoozing at a charming little art museum nearby that was hosting an annual get-together to thank its volunteers. The theme was “Hats Off to Volunteers!” And since we were encouraged to wear hats to go with the theme, I’d borrowed a gold-sequinned fedora (with battery-operated lights!!) from my artist daughter. When you add up the facts that I love hors d’oeuvres, I love schmoozing, and I love this art museum, well then…lock and load, let’s get the party started!
The artist herself had just left on a long adventure to the East Coast, which may find her making Philadelphia her permanent residence. Her car was certainly filled to the brim with her belongings in boxes and garment bags and art supplies and healthy food. A half hour after we’d hugged our goodbyes and she’d driven off into the (metaphorical) sunset, I suited up for a chilly dog walk and clipped Lucky to the leash. I had, I thought, plenty of time to knock off a mile trek with him at a brisk pace before returning to the house to get gussied up for the art museum.
Suited up in earmuffs, gloves, muffler, and two pairs of pants, we made it about three house lengths down the sidewalk when my phone rang in my pocket. It was my daughter, cursing her forgetfulness at forgetting a vital—and very expensive—health supplement in the refrigerator. She was by now nearly fifty miles away.
If you know anything about me it’s that motherhood trumps everything in my book, of course, so I gave her the coordinates for a Starbucks about halfway between and told her I’d meet her there in a little while. Then I piled Lucky—who hadn’t even had time to sniff a tree or a fire hydrant—into the back of the car, grabbed the errant bottle of exorbitantly-priced probiotics from the refrigerator, and hit the road.
A half hour later, we hugged again, and I handed off the probiotics for a traveling cup of peppermint hot chocolate.
“I’m really sorry you’re going to miss your thing at the museum,” she said ruefully. “I know how much you wanted to go!”
“Don’t worry about it honey, the evening will be just fine!” I said, and then we hit the interstate going in opposite directions.
Lucky, who is a superb travelling companion, still sat silently in the back of the car, nestled on a big cushion. I thought about the long drive home to another walk on the neighborhood sidewalks, and then turned off at the next exit, where a state park nestled on a beach. It just had to be more fun than picking up where we left off!
We got to the park while it was still daylight…but after the staff had closed up the welcome center and gone home. The road through the park to the shore was far longer than I had remembered, and we didn’t pass a single car or hiker. Plenty of deer…but no people. The same held true when we finally reached the parking lot by the shoreline.
I dutifully clipped Lucky’s leash to his collar as we left the car, but as I looked around I realized we literally had the entire enormous park to ourselves. Not much of a mystery there, since it was the dinner hour for most civilized folks, the park itself was located in the middle of nowhere, and a nasty weather system was moving in. I unclipped Lucky and turned him loose.
Oh, what a happy dog! It has been quite the heartbreaking transition for him to make the switch from a country dog to a city pooch to adjust to my move last year. Out in the country, he sniffed, ran, chased rabbits, and patrolled the perimeter of my lawn at will, challenging all comers. Living in the city, he is always on a leash when he gets outside. His daily life has been muted.
And so we walked, on wet sand and through forest trails, up hillocks and on rocky outcrops. I stopped to take pictures, of course. Lucky dug in and launched himself across flat landscapes at ninety miles an hour for the sheer joy of it. We ambled, and looked around, and explored for a half hour. And then when ice chips started raining down on our heads, we called it and headed back to the car. I recalled that when I first set out to photograph my favorite shoes on a beach years ago for my blog “Running with Stilettos,” it had been at this very same beach…and it had been darn cold and wintry that day too!
It was most definitely not the evening I set out to have. No hors d’oeuvres, no funny hat, no light conversation in an art gallery. But the evening that I got was pretty spectacular anyway!