For some people, putting on socks is just something you do. It is a mindless task that usually occurs sometime after brushing your teeth, and just before tugging on your footwear du jour. Socks are simply a mundane part of the ritual of getting dressed with no hidden agenda. But when you live in a house with three corgis, the act of pulling on socks is code. Code for W-A-L-K.
My toe is barely tucked into the first sock when Peach, the lone girl of the Corgi trio, suddenly arouses from a flounce of pillows and locks me into her gaze. AJ’s eyes flicker open, mid-under-the-coffee-table-slumber. Andy’s ear cocks toward me, honing in on the sound like a radar.
Soon all three are a knot of movement and whine at my feet, a triple question mark of anticipation. Walk?
I pull on my shoes and work my way through their excitement. The wide plank floors click with a crescendo of dancing doggy toenails. Long bodies bend like commas, as they dash around the edge of the old pine table, the sound now hushed by carpet. Their treasured “cookie” jar forgotten as we pass through the kitchen. Corgi feet scuttle across the slate of the mud-room and the screen door makes its usual screeching complaint and slam as we go through. I snap each bouncing dog onto the end of a leash. And so it begins.
Down the hill we go past our ancient grey house on the tangled bank.
Past the murky pond where sometimes we startle turtles mid lazy-amble across the road.
Into the leafy tunnel, where giant trees overhang, creating a respite of cool, and night haven for fireflies.
Apple Jacks trots.
Peach paces like a Standardbred off to the finish.
As one they charge. GO!
The squirrel dashes but leash ends check Corgi enthusiasm with a jolt. It’s a familiar game again replayed, doggy optimism barely dimmed.
“Next time!” they always say.
I gather leashes woven together like a maypole. Corgis look up at me. WALK!
We march up the hill.
Past the little log house where chickens bob and scratch, and we sometimes stop to purchase eggs with yolks as orange as summer sun.
Past the farm stand with doors open wide to a bounty of tomatoes, zucchini, and honey, and jam to be bought on your honor, by putting coins into a jar.
We smell the sharp scent of silage, summer grass becoming winter fodder, and black and white cows flicking flies with ropy tails as we go by.
Past the house with a swinging sign, “Breeding Pygmy Goats of structure and style” (But we never see them).
Past Old Allyn’s neglected garden drooping peonies into the road.
Past the quartet of tiny yappers who vent their jealousy about our freedom.
Past the tiny brook, sparkling star-like in the sun.
Past the stone wall, the old brick schoolhouse, and the stump at the end of a drive where sometimes there are things you can take under a sign that reads. “Free.”
Finally, we reach the end. Our street opens to a vista overlooking a field and a barn, and the road to wider ambitions.
We stop and look, then turn around.
Andy’s lope has a bit less swing, AJ’s trot a bit less bounce, Peach’s pace is a bit less determined.
The Corgis pant and their tongues begin to loll.
We detour to the creek.
We pass the sights in reverse.
No cows in the field as we pass this time. Where did they go?
Too early for fireflies, but we are thankful for the cool of verdant tree tunnel.
We pass the pond, no turtles in the road.
Grey Gables is just ahead. The hill feels so much taller going up.
The graveled driveway crunches under our feet.
Once again, HOME.
Leashes are unsnapped and rehung.
The Corgis snake around the screen door, pad across the mudroom.
I hear the slosh and splash of water, and dog tags clanging against the bowl as they all drink their fill.
Then it is silent.
Where have they gone?
Peach is draped across the couch, Andy has collapsed under the table, and AJ slumps against the woodbox.
I take off my shoes and not one dog stirs.