I walk the fields every morning with our dog, Newton. BC the barn cat follows us. Each day, I look for something new, some change. In the spring I see the first furled alfalfa leaf rising through the grasses. In summer, I watch for new flowers in the prairie. This fall I've been listening to bird calls, trying to identify them, judging which birds are moving south by the calls I hear in the air.
Every morning, I write a haiku as I walk. Haiku are a form of short Japanese poetry, generally with a natural theme. Traditional haiku are 17 syllables long, set out in three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables. Seventeen syllables of noticing the world.
This morning Newton and I heard gunshots in the distance as we walked up the driveway. It's deer hunting season and the shots mean we have hunters beyond the edges of our property. I won't risk taking a deer colored dog further than our driveway. He'll get the rest of his outdoor time sitting with BC on the deck.
Then I began to worry. Would a hunter see just a glimpse of Newton and not notice the human walking behind him on our driveway and shoot thinking he'd seen a deer?
What would I do if Newton got shot? Would it be better to shout and scream so the hunter knows I'm there? Or to rush silently back to the house and call 911 to report a hunter shooting across our property without our permission so that the police could arrest him? Should I pick the dog up and carry him down to Dave in case he's dying (as if I could carry a 100 pound dog) or should I just shout for Dave and hope he hears me above NPR?
A car was parked across the road from the top of our driveway. A hunter in the neighbor's woods.
What if the shot came from that direction? If I ran down the driveway after the shot, I could tell the police all about the car.
Wait a minute, what could I tell the police? The car was white, no, silver. Maybe it was a light gray. Do they make light gray cars? It looked like a station wagon from behind, but hardly anybody has station wagons anymore, so with no other cars to judge size by, it was probably something bigger. I think I made out the letters KIA on the back of the car.
Newton BC, and I turned around and headed back down the driveway. If Newton got shot from behind on our way down the drive, I could tell the police that I saw a white, silver, or gray car that might have been a KIA and might have been bigger than a station wagon, but with the same kind of square shape, with Minnesota plates of which I could read none of the numbers or letters without going a lot closer. I wasn't getting any closer.
In the mystery novels I enjoy, someone always gets the color, make, and license plate number of a car speeding away from them. I obviously would be a useless witness if a crime was committed with a car. No crime was committed at all while Newton and I returned to the house, but I edited and tuned my story all the way down the drive just in case. Back at the house I sat down to write my haiku and realized that I had spent the entire walk inside my head, not even really seeing the car which was the one thing I had actually noticed.
I walk this beautiful world
not noticing much