Promises To Keep and Miles To Go Before We Sleep
Ginger has been a part of my life at Casa La Mancha approaching a year. I picked her up from Melissa, who is a breeder of Irish Setters in Home, PA late December, which happened to be on the longest night of the year. Back then, she weighed less than 10-pounds. Today, she is nearly 70-pounds.
Mornings arrive early for Ginger and me. By 6:30 am most mornings, we are leaving our home and beginning more than an hour journey as we circumnavigate the lake. Three fourths of our walk is done with Ginger on a leash, which is through the residential area. However, once the paved road stops at the end of the lake, there is merely a walking path around the end, which reconnects with a road a half mile later.
Our walks are also bifurcated in addition to the leash or no leash. We talk much of the time about what is on each of our minds. For example, in the residential area, Ginger knows which homes have children and/or dogs. When they are not present, she wonders out loud about missing playing with them. However, when we get to the end of the paved road, I disconnect her leash and say, “Go!” That is the only thing that I say to her for 20-minutes, and Ginger goes running full speed amongst the tall grass and the wildflowers.
As I walk the half mile around the end of the lake, Ginger cuts across the path to the left and right. She will run the length of a football field in the time I can walk 10-15 yards. She crisscrosses the path repeatedly. She is exhausted as I reconnect her leash to her collar.
However, when Ginger is running free in the weeds and wild flowers about half the time I can’t see her. Then I notice the vegetation moving and suddenly Ginger bounds across the path. There are times that she will range far from the path by couple hundred yards. Then she returns to the path to find me twenty yards ahead of her. Ginger doesn’t like running second; she was born a leader. As I continue to walk, I hear her thundering hoofbeats coming up from behind me. The actual sound surprised me the first time this occurred. I was surprised a 60-70 pound dog could make that sound.
While Ginger is exercising as she crisscrosses the path, I think and ponder. The fall has arrived. In another few weeks, the oranges and yellows will abound. I spent a lot of time thinking about what follows the fall...the winter. I wonder whether Ginger will remember her first snow experience when she was two months old.
Being right-brained, my mind darts about with thoughts and ideas; it never rests. I remembered when I was in high school standing in front of Mrs. Davis reciting Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I wasn’t into memorizing. In fact, I hated it. However, I have benefited from that requirement of memorization of a hundred lines each semester. I still recall many poems or prose fairly close to the actual words. I compared Frost and his horse’s experience on the longest night of the years and my experience with Ginger who I picked up on a similar night. While I didn’t recall verbatim the poem, it didn’t matter...my mind was engrossed in the meaning. I wondered as the snows fall what Ginger and I will think as I pause to disconnect or reconnect her leash.
To be honest, I don’t remember how much time that I was in the trance-like experience as I walked. Nonetheless, I had reached the end of the path and realized that I was attaching Ginger’s leash. I had returned to the real world. Ginger and I now walked next to each other on the paved sidewalk for another half mile to our home. I gave Ginger a treat as we began our trip home. I don’t recall the walk, but I recall returning to my trance about Ginger and me. Frost’s last stanza haunted me.
Ginger was tired and was probably thinking about breakfast. However, I was thinking about Frost and me...especially the miles to go before he and I sleep. I have successfully done the dance with death twice. Doing the dance awakened me to life. Nonetheless, it also awakened me to the reality that I am not always going to lead death as we dance.
Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson popularized the notion of the Cosmic Calendar. It is the way astrophysicists provide a means for us to grasp cosmic time since the Big Bang. They merely divided up the 13.8 billion years into 365-days. For example, dinosaurs were around on Christmas day. In the last 8-seconds of the Cosmic Calendar, humans evolved in Africa. WWII occurred in the last .02 second of the Cosmic Calendar year. Interestingly, I was born in the middle of WWII.
Frost’s poem employs a similar format. His calendar was a personal calendar, in which his life ends on the last day of the calendar year. I understand that insight due to my two dances. I too have miles to go before I sleep, but I have promises to keep to my family and friends. My personal calendar, like Frost’s, is winding down all too quickly. That haunts me. I have been helped by people. In response to their help, I need to reciprocate by helping others.
This video is of Robert Frost reciting Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
Interestingly, this is Frost’s first-draft of his poem.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Thus Spoke Ginger page to read more about this topic.