On a misty morning, Harley and I ventured along trails in Palos Verdes, California. The routes wound behind homes with landscaped yards of rose bushes and ponds. Sometimes the trail’s vegetation grew so dense that the houses disappeared. Fences became walls of morning glories, disguising the moss-ridden wood. The sweet and sour smell of Eucalyptus trees rained down on us as we walked further up the path. Lizards rustled in the ivy beds but stayed hidden off the trail as did the crows and raccoons.
The environment turned Harley into a feral beast, sending him on a romp through newly shed tree bark and leaves. He rolled around, whiskers to the sky, until the dirt showed beneath the path. His coat of short, yellow hair would be slick with Eucalyptus oil by the time we returned home. On his feet again, Harley crisscrossed from one side of the path to the other without care for the dogs and people he nearly tangled or tripped with his leash. He paused on his wild quest for scents only when a horse appeared. Harley (fearless adventurer) froze and observed the equine’s passing as though it were a god emerging out of the mist.
The further we walked, the more the trail became a forest. Here and there hints of civilization remained. Just below a long-forgotten tree house, I discovered a wooden swing hanging by rope from a lofty tree branch. I could not resist. I dropped Harley’s leash and hopped onto the swing. Soaring above the ground while Harley explored, I remembered my summers on a tire swing in my backyard. I had played on the tire swing every day until the rope broke, sending me flying (in a fit of giggles) into a bed of mint plants. The next time the rope gave out I bounced into the cold water of my wading pool. I remembered in high school, the stage crew guys hung a rope from the light bars in the auditorium ceiling. Like penguins diving into water, we had lined up to swing. I leapt from the stage and flew into the house barely clearing the seats.
As I swayed back and forth under the old tree house, I kept an eye on Harley who in turn, kept an eye on me. Although I didn’t know it, he had been plotting against me since I sat down on the swing. His thoughts were impossible to interpret; after all, his curled-up, mischievous grin was genetic and remained the same whether he was happy or otherwise.
When the moment was right, my loyal companion charged. No time to stop, I swung right into his out stretched paws. He anticipated the impact, paw punching me in the stomach and hopping away before the swing hit him.
I fell flat on my back, my legs drooping over the wooden seat. As I remained with my head resting in soft trail mulch, I gazed up at the canopy of fog-drenched leaves. Harley licked my face with not so much as an apology. It was then that I realized my dog had an entirely different world going on his head. He lived a life where food was the proper reward for everything, horses were mythical creatures not of this earth, and humans were never meant to float above the ground…because obviously they could get hurt…