long way home

there exists a little path behind our house on the lake—

a small opening in the tree line points the way.

I leash Ronnie to lead her—

although I know she knows where to go.

as soon as we're out of sight I unclip her collar.

the wild dog in her is home.

her tense muscles and house-bound anxious eyes settle here—

under the towering pines and the canopy of leaves,

she is not a domesticated dog.

she is a free dog.

she bounds down the soft trail—

padded with rust-colored needles.

she prances through the brush and sniffs the ground.

she leaves her mark.

the trail hugs the edge of the lake—

just how I like it.

the water is still and glassy, at peace—

unlike the roaring ocean of my other home.

there comes a point in the trail where the path nose dives into the earth

and then climbs back out of the hole.

Ronnie—like a mountain biker—

plunges down and pops back up on the other side.

she cocks her head back to see if I'm following.

I need my own bike to keep up.

at this point, we've entered another world altogether.

the trees stand like soldiers at attention,

and our paths have multiplied—

together, we've surely covered them all.

we come to a green dog bowl—

left behind by another,

it most likely served another pup on his journey.

now, the cracked plastic is filled with rain water and fallen leaves.

Ronnie laps at it thankfully.

we saunter together until we can see the house through the branches

on the other side.

we could pop through the brush and be home in an instant.

but to us that would be no fun.

we're not ready to emerge from our little sanctuary in the woods.

knowingly, Ronnie looks up and gives me a wink—

turning on her toes, she trots back the way she came.

today, we're taking the long way home.

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