Spirit Guide

How can I describe it? My heart is singing. Thanks to my puppy, my Dragon Baby, my Joy, I no longer live in a city of asphalt and automobiles, days without sunlight spent all indoors. Instead, I find I am surrounded by magic. Treasures to discover, fantastic beasts to meet, dense forests and winding pathways to explore. Suddenly, our backyard is no longer simply a patch of dying grass impossible to maintain, but an enchanted garden, filled with mysterious plants with uncertain powers, surrounded by animals seen and unseen.* Suddenly, our neighborhood is no longer simply a space between campus and home to be traversed as quickly as possible lest I lose time from my work, but a whole world of people to talk to and buildings to admire, sidewalks and grass to sniff. And campus itself, whose architectural and botanical beauty was always previously for me something rather impersonal and cold, is now a realm of leisured walks and captivating vistas.

Oh, dear, I am not doing this experience justice at all. Maybe some photos will help.

Here is my magical puppy yesterday morning, searching for buried treasures in the sunlight.


Here she has caught sight of a fantastic beast, friend or foe? How can words express the intensity in her gaze, the prick of her ears as she strains to learn who this creature might be?


And when I turn around, what do I see, but the building where I work, transformed into a castle rising out of an enchanted wood?


The very sidewalks are now sources of intense fascination, maps in time, telling stories only a dog's nose can scent.


Every object we come across becomes a potential treasure to be guarded and chewed, even as we look along the path for further adventures.**


Pathetic, I know. The muse is not with me. Perhaps if you could hear the soundtrack playing in my heart, all those songs by Jethro Tull (there, I told you) that I used to listen to when I was younger. "Walking on velvet green.... Songs from the wood.... Pass the cup of crimson wonder.... Ring out, ring out, those solstice bells...." I wish that I had the words to describe their effect on me, too.

There is joy and life and just enough raunchiness in their lyrics and music to make me feel alive and hopeful again. Hearing them in my heart, I see the green shoots starting to push up through the ground and I can feel the world coming back to life after the winter, my heart coming back to life after much, much too long spent in anxiety and despair. It is a gentle awakening, nothing cataclysmic, nothing like the great spiritual watershed I was expecting--or, rather, demanding it to be. Like the sunlight, it is simply there. All that I needed to do was to pay attention.

And yet, it seems, I could not find this magical, everyday world that I live in without a guide. She's just a puppy. All she is doing is being herself, marvelously interested in every person we meet, every dog that walks by, every leaf and blade of grass, every object that she finds. The world for her is a place of endless fascination because, after all, it really is all new to her. She's only four months old. And so, magically, she makes me young again, too, willing simply to be.

I wish that you could be here with me, feeling the surge of happiness that I feel. I want to share this world that my puppy has shown me with everyone, point to the dirt and the trees and the houses and the people and shout, "Look, look! Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it the most wonderful thing you have ever seen?" I want you to hear the music, catch the scents, feel the cold air on your cheeks, watch the day change from dawn to dusk, every instant a moment to be treasured simply because it is real.

What have I been doing all these years not to have noticed what a beautiful neighborhood this is? How is it possible that I have missed the magic in the sunlight day after day? I was too anxious about the future, too fixed on the conviction that there was no time to waste to spend wandering about outdoors, heaven forbid, not working. All I can say is, thank goodness for my puppy's digestive system! Ironic, isn't it? Thanks to poop, I can feel joy again.

Time for her breakfast, after which, joy of joys, we get to go outside again! What need is there to say anything else?

*Except, of course, for their poops. Most probably possums, but there are also raccoons about. The only other animals that we can actually see most days are the squirrels.
**In this case, it was some kind of rubber ring. The things you find!

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