A policeman thinks people might be afraid of golden retrievers.
| My Woods
As Baron and I head down the path along the DuPage River, we pass a sign that lists the rules for the nature park. In shorthand, the first four are: All pets must be leashed, clean up after them, all joggers stay to the left, and don’t leave the path. I break number one and continue under a canopy of trees on the yellow leafed road to Oz.
There are two sections of the woods I like. There is the A River Runs Through It section, where I pretend to fly fish in the river wearing hip boots, or, there is The Blair Witch Project where the boogeyman takes revenge. Today we head over to Blair Witch.
The sun is leaning in from the west. Beyond the high grass, further back in the scrim of darkness, leaves shiver down from taller trees; their bare branches are spiky claws that scratch the sky. The smaller trees are shimmering gold cloaked in blackness. Baron and I hover together in the haunting silence. I imagine if we step off the path, we’ll cross over into the next dimension…running for our lives. I click off a few pictures. People are not allowed in my photographs, but, hey, what is this?
A policeman appears through my lens. “Ma’am, keep your dog leashed. Some people don’t like dogs. I could ticket you,” he says.
Three things immediately disturb me. He called me ma’am, but I contend with number three. I’m thinking what he said doesn’t make sense. What about the wild animals in the woods? Could it be true that people are more frightened of a domestic pet? Instead, I look him square in the eyes and reply, “Ever see a roving pack of growling golden retrievers? I don’t think so, Mr. Copper.” I feel pumped now, like I’m James Cagney. I point, “Hey, is that a rabid skunk over there?” His eyes pop and his hand goes to his weapon. I see what kind of guy he really is. Serve and protect my…but I digress. I karate chop the gun out of his hand. “Not so fast, Copper.” A whispering wind urges me to push him off the path into Blair Witch territory. It would serve him right to wander lost and whimpering in the wild.
He says something that sounds like, blah, blah, blah, and moves on in the opposite direction. Of course, I haven’t said or done any of those things. I promptly leash Baron and we meander on, annoyed that a mere mortal with attitude has interrupted our journey.
We are back to the beginning and I read the sign once more. The last rule: Take only memories and leave only footprints. I scoop up a fallen leaf, the color of crimson, and then remember the other two things that disturbed me.