Aki and I are climbing the gentle grade of Perseverance Trail being pursued by a gang of day care kids. We have sunshine on a day the weather guys predicted it would rain. Ghosts of fog rise suddenly off the stream only to die quickly in the strengthening sun. I should be ecstatic. But I in frustrated in my efforts to put some distance between the kids and my little dog. I am living out this line from “Listening,” a poem by Jennifer Grotz: “the dog walker vectors from here to there, frustrated by his little lingering inspector.” That’s the little dog and I in spades—she stopping to sniff every few feet while the kids gain.
The kids are cute and relatively well behaved. But I know Aki treats all kids that size as puppies ready to engage in sometimes rough play. They are charming, this assemblage of pre-schoolers dressed in their bright outdoor gear, each gripping a loop that is tied to a long web line. At the head is a teacher, struggling like a lead dog to keep the gangline straight. They climb up a one of the steeper grades on the trail, turn around and run screaming down the hill. When we can only see their abandoned gangline on the road, I am finally able to relax into the hike.