On a hot, sunny evening in the valley we sat on smelly folding lawn chairs we should have replaced years ago but I didn’t know until just then that they were smelly, as if they’d been stored in a dark, dank basement for years. Now I know.
To the east loomed a flat-top mountain, reaching five-thousand-plus feet above us. Sheer cliffs to the south and west obscured another horizon but promised to hide the sun in just a little while. To the north and stretching toward Utah, more cliffs hid the high desert that reached beyond to wherever.
Strangers and friends arrived with their own smelly chairs and straw hats and camera phones and smiles, and attitudes and opinions on their tees and skins, and expectations of reliving something of the past that just would not fade away. An hour on, maybe more, it happened in this place by the river where we sat surrounded by the world and now by sound.
Red Dog Smith lives with Mrs. Smith and me near a state park in Colorado, a short walk from the Colorado River and a recreational trail that runs alongside it. Curious as a young child, he asks a lot of questions, at least when just the two of us are out for a walk.
He noticed this morning that what he surmised was a bigger dog – because a lot of four-legged creatures are bigger than he is – had pooped a lot of poop right on the concrete trail between our place and Corn Lake.
He looked at me with those big brown eyes. “When I take a dump, why do we always have to stop and pick it up and take it with us?”
“Good question, Red,” I told him. “If everyone just left it lying around, the world would be way more stinky and unpleasant than it is and people would be stepping in poop all the time and swearing a lot more.”
“So why didn’t someone pick up all that dog poop?”
Another great question, and a learning opportunity. “Well, first of all Red, I don’t know. And that isn’t actually dog poop. It’s what we refer to as horseshit. In other words, it’s poop that comes from a horse.”
He nodded, letting that sink in a bit. “So why didn’t someone pick up the horseshit and put it in a bag?”
I’d been wondering the same thing. You don’t mind too much when a cow gets loose and leaves a pie or two along a gravel road out in the middle of nowhere, or even when a horse leaves a little horseshit off the edge of the trail.
“You know, Red, I guess some people forget to bring a poop bag along now and then, and some people just don’t care enough to pick up after their own dog. So I suppose some people who have horses forget to bring bags or don’t care enough about keeping things nice to pick up after their own horse. You’d think they could at least scrape it off the feckin trail.”
“It’s one of those ‘life’s mysteries’ you told me about, right?”
“Exactly,” I said, pleased to know he’d been paying attention a few weeks ago.
He nodded and turned to move along, pulling a bit on the leash before coming to a sudden stop next to the nearest pile.
“What’s a horse?” he asked.
Questions, questions, questions. “Later, Red,” I said. “I’ll show you some pictures.”
If your own dog has questions, please share them here and we’ll do our best to answer them.
Red Dog Smith and I ventured out of the office late this morning for a walk down to the river. Mrs. Smith was out hiking with some friends after ignoring my sage advice to always have a pocket knife when hiking. Who doesn’t carry a pocket knife into the wild?
Anyhow, the river isn’t far, and we got all the short way there without seeing another human being or another canine. We decided we are OK with having a trail completely to ourselves now and then.
On the way back, it got busy. We saw a total of three human beings – one walking his black Lab, two others going different directions on their bicycles.
To be more specific, we saw three elderly guys. All three had what some would call white hair, but I prefer to characterize as silver.
Sensing a pattern here?
Seeing three people in half an hour or so is what passes for busy in our rocky little chunk of Mesa County.
We also saw:
Two quick-footed lizards.
Contrails criss-crossing the clear blue sky.
An enormous flat-topped mountain to the east of us.
On the way back, almost at the front door, I realized I have become some guy who writes about his lunch break now and then. I am OK with that. Red doesn’t seem to care.