We start our day walking alongside the whispering yellow grasses in the undeveloped lot. They put a cul-de-sac here, connecting it to our neighborhood, but got no further. Now the wild grass has dried and gone to seed, and the field is scattered with daisies, lupine, and clover.
River likes it here best. She trots ahead, her tail loose. She gets nervous in the neighborhood itself, especially in the afternoons, with the watching houses and kids on bikes and extra noise. Here, though, in the cool quiet, it would be easy to mistake her for a “normal” dog, one we’d raised from a puppy rather than adopting three years ago.
Three weeks after we got River, we tried walking her in a different portion of the neighborhood. A pair of dogs barking at her from behind their fence scared her so badly that she slipped her collar and ran off. Luckily, she ran straight home. After that, we got her a harness, and we never took her along that route again. She used to be scared of so many things: flags snapping in the wind, heavy rain, her own leash. She’d shake and her tail would tuck under – she’d even refuse the treats we tried to feed her to distract her.
She veers, sniffing – she wants to go into the grass. I keep her back, wary of ticks. I’ve never spotted any; usually it’s just ladybugs perched on the seed heads, preparing to start their day.
Three years on, River is doing a lot better. She still hates beaches and only tolerates car rides. She’s much more comfortable on walks, but is still rare to see her this relaxed. I let her leash out and her tail sways as she trots.
Someday they’ll actually finish building here, mowing down the grasses and cramming nine or ten houses in, and those houses will fill with new families and new kids and new fears to overcome – but until then, this is our morning walk.