stephanie crocker
Aug 17, 2018 · 4 min read

Observations Over a Sunset.

The Mountains of North Carolina

Yes, that was my broken ankle. Now out of the boot but still recovering.

A dogs ears are just as good as his nose. Maybe even better. He sits perfectly still listening as the sun sets. Cautious, alert but showing no sign of fear, I imagine that he is categorizing each sound in some sort of catalog of good things. He appears to also be taking notice of how big the space between each sound is which I think must be important information in the language of a dog.

We are in a clearing on top of a hill. For my dog Walter, each round of barking in the distance always sounds like something new which pricks up his ears for a moment until he remembers it is just an old sound in a new setting. And then he relaxes and refiles that sound in the good catalog which as a young pup is far from full. Because dogs specialize in finding goodness in all things.

In a moment of quietness, Walter turns his nose down and rolls it along the grassy hilltop. At first it’s just a quick cruise and then it’s a brief nosey nibble on the more tasty bits.

He returns to sit alongside me, leaning in to let me know he is there as we watch the sun drop behind the mountains. He is still listening hard for any new sounds. I pick off a few needles from a sprouting tiny pine and find they hardly smell at all, but I still catalog the moment in the good catalog which for me seems a little dusty these days.

A thought crosses over me that women can finally say that they are tired of blaming men for what they could/should/would have done because it’s not really his fault. A little sigh of relief happens as I continue to watch the day come to a close and it is a good feeling even though my vision for the next day is pretty blurry.

Other thoughts about my life pass through me, but they are not interesting enough to mention. I did notice that the air was very still.

Walter gets up to do more exploring and picks up a stick that he brings back to me. He lies down beside me on the quilt and then starts to slowly chew on it to pass the time.

He stops and glances up and to the left where my husband John is taking a pee through his already unzipped fly into the tiny meadow, and we watch his trickle glisten and we all smile at each other.

Soon the night bugs move in, starting in on the dog. They are backlit by the sun as they busy themselves with their nightly foraging. I feel myself becoming more invisible every time I close my eyes.

A beetle wanders by, rambling like a Jeep on the tall grasses and lets Walter stop and give him a sniff before he quickly sprints off out of sight and scent.

But the dogs down mountain seem to keep barking and I know these are new sounds because Walter stops chomping on his stick and listens sharply. I can see him cataloging the noises in the good catalog even though it sounds like there are children down there too.

I forgot to read the message inside the wrapper of the Dove Chocolate. The wrapper is too crumpled up right now to unfold it, but the chocolate was good.

I wonder what a dog’s catalog might look like without words getting in the way. I am sure it is not made of paper and bound like a book. I start to have this funny feeling that animals probably invented the internet before we did except they didn’t need to lay down any cables. I imagine the luxury of bathing in pure emotions and feelings. I imagine the bliss of living in the exact moment that is happening right now.

Which is exactly what I am doing.

The sky grows a little less bright which makes me want to close my eyes even more slowly.

Finally the sun sets like a non event behind a thick row of clouds. Those same clouds hug the mountain tops and dampen out the glow of the sliding sun. And the fireflies light up trying to find each other in the darkening sky. And the day forgives itself into evening and the good catalog has plenty of room. And my husband finishes taking his photos and sits down beside me for a brief moment before the bugs start feasting on his meaty bits.


some travel stories and various bumps along the road