It is a little past eight and the sun has passed below the horizon. The light has not yet faded though so I am banking on enough time to complete the loop trail Orion and I have set upon. He is rearing to go, a long day in his crate broken up only by a morning walk (the dog that was involved in my arm breaking was out so we had to readjust our walk so not to be killed), a lunch break, a break before karate and then our walk with tiny, short-legged dogs. I'm feeling energized myself--muscles having been worked at karate, and my awesome new keen sandals on my feet. I take off at a run. Orion grabs the leash in his mouth and takes off at a sprint. I feel the uneven ground beneath my feet and I am laughing. It has been a while since I have cross countried myself, although, in those days it was more orchestrated, as I'm flying along, there is a distinct trace of panic in my head repeating, "You miss a step you're screwed. You're going too fast. If you miss a step you're screwed. You're going too fast."
I slow to a walk.
"Okay buddy, I can't maintain that pace."
Ahead the trees curl into a tunnel. Magical, I think. We approach and the ground is soft under our feet. Orion dodges one side than the other sniffing God only knows what. I pay attention to the sounds around me, the quiet, then the robin call. I wonder if ahead we will see a walker of dogs. I wonder about my friend Anne, who introduced me to this place and then moved to Virginia and how I doubt I'll ever see her again but wasn't it nice knowing her while I did. And I think of my own move, close on the horizon and the thought of those I know now, and if they too will fall in the "nice to know while I did" category or if I will have them in my life like the Diane Sands, and Kate Silver's of the west coast. We round the corner and head down the next trail.
Orion and I have some stern conversations. Me stern, Orion being stubbornly Irish. "You have got to stop pulling," I say, making him sit perfectly still. His head darts left and right. He is accommodating in the sense that he is technically doing what I said, sitting, not pulling, appearing to be responding to my lecture.
We sprint again, this time by a single woman on her phone, in running clothes, and I think about what it must be like walking alone in the woods and choosing to be on a phone. She misses the sounds. On our trail home it is those sounds I am so attuned too.
An owl calls out.
A soft smile crosses my face. I think of Owl Moon, of night walks when I was a kid--all 20 of us for our annual "Owl Walk". As if an owl would show up with a bunch of third graders hooting their heads off... and yet, Orion pauses mid stride, leash in mouth to listen. It calls again. I call back. If only I could see her. We are moving closer. A girl and a dog walking a path, hooting to an owl. I suppose if I came up behind this girl, I would smile, think how un-self-conscious she must be, how a little odd she be, and just maybe, I'd probably like her and wish there were more like her in Ohio.
We get closer. I call, she calls. I pause.
We move on.
I don't think tonight will be the magic evening that I see an owl in the woods after all.