The Days Are Walking

The Days Are Walking

I. Tennessee Valley

In the winter beech woods—silver-white trunks and limbs, sky bright as ashes—in those blank days at the start of a year, we took our first walks together. I threaded a rope through a belt loop, tied the other end to his collar, so that the bond between us was tangible: fibers, twined, before he had a name to call, before I knew he would come back to me.

He was fox-red, his pelt vivid against the bare trees as we wound through them. He was a tug at my waist, pulling me down the path behind the old marble quarry, to the glinting river. I followed him deeper into the place I lived. He stopped often to put his nose to the ground, the burnished-gold leaf litter: traces of scent left by animals, made visible to me by the lines his nose drew across the earth.

I set forth on foot following this tug of energy that urged my legs to walk. The circle of my life, small as it was, widened outward.

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{“Above the Trail,” wood cut on Japanese paper, by Frances Hammell Gearhart, 1929}

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