You’re never too old for a field trip

Cartoon of kids in bus with "Field Trip" on side of bus.

I am so excited I hardly slept a wink. Maybe that wasn’t the greatest idea since I have a special day ahead. I’m going on a field trip!

My walking group from the park, now disbanded, will be gathering for a reunion. I don’t know what to call us, since we are in no way Desperate Housewives. We could be the Fabulous Four. First and foremost we are friends. Remember, dogs are the best connectors.

Although these three women knew each other before I came along–two are besties from way back–they kindly let Jelly and me join them on their off-leash walks. The four dogs were a motley crew: the hearing-impaired grande dame, the protective and loving stick shredder, the puppyish overgrown runner, and the howling hound (that’s Jelly). Somehow the dogs all got along, and often three of the four would race through the trees while the grande dame sniffed along, keeping her eye out for us since her ears weren’t much use.

I met these lovely gals and their pooches soon after my leukemia diagnosis. Actually, J. met them first, but as I became strong enough to return to the park, they let me join in. I was trying to adjust to a life without my work and to manage my social isolation, both of which were new challenges for me. These women took me in warmly, providing companionship while also watching over me. I must have been pretty needy back then, as I still am now, but somehow they tolerated that.

The group was physically protective as well. Because they were aware of my bruising capacity, they blocked other dogs from jumping on me and helped me over icy patches so I wouldn’t fall. Even the kind son of one, when I see him, assumed his mother’s caring role in her absence. From these gals, I received offers for help with the dog if I was unwell, which is exceedingly generous given Jelly’s poor behaviour.

Two of these kind lasses have since moved an hour west but we stay in touch through email. We two who were left behind still catch up at the park, perhaps less often but only because I am an unreliable park attendee. All three women continue to follow the blog, which helps me to feel connected with them through the absences.

For some time, I have wanted to drive west to catch up with the two who’ve moved, but have not felt up to managing the highway drive solo. Not only that, but protective J. forbid it, for good reason. She’s seen me on the worst of my stoned-from-medication days. Thankfully, my remaining park compatriot volunteered to chauffeur, so off we go today. The small-town girls will be generously providing lunch and mountain views while we city folk will bring dessert and our engaging personalities (that’s assuming I can stay awake).

Jelly will not be joining us today, however. The only way to ensure she doesn’t steal everyone’s lunches off the table is to leave her at home. Yes, I’m crating for the greater good.

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