The Sum of the Parts


The second time in as many days, I am walking in wet footgear. Yesterday, rainwater clinging to grass on the Lewiston Montana labyrinth washed off Rocky Mountains dirt and soil from our family wheat ranch. Today, low bush blueberry brush cleans Alaska river mud from my boots.


During my Montana visit, I squinted at sun soaked prairie or mountains by day and read Thomas McGuane’s Some Horses before I fell asleep at night. With Aki back home in Alaska, I had enough distance from her to ponder out relationship. McGuane inspired this reflection. He writes that when anyone goes forth with an animal—hunting dog, cutting horse, or poodle—the whole is greater than the sum of parts. Does the little dog make me greater and I do the same for her? She accomplishes more on this walk on a soaked mountain meadow. When we return the car she will know the local history—who passed through, whether there was violence or a mating or consumption of a meal. She will know she has done her duty, stood by my side when I made water, scanned the muskeg for a bear that she would have chase away if it came near. The ten pound dog takes on much.sunflower

I just muse and wander and call her back if she heads towards danger. I add little substance, but McGuane is right. Our whole exceeds the sum of our individual contributions. Without me, the dog would be stuck at home, posed to bark the mailman. Without her I would spend this cool, wet day inside, maybe listening again to Corelli’s Concerti Grossi and finishing up Some Horses.Aki

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