Nemo and I take a morning walk almost every day. Nemo’s particularly fond of snow and ice, and Emilie is not. Despite this, we find ways to cope. A regional park not far from my house offers trails through the forest, as well as a wide road that’s plowed at the first sign of snow. On snowy mornings I walk the road and Nemo prowls the woods as far as his leash will allow.
Our park offers more, as well. Deer are a common sight, deer not afraid of humans nor rambunctious beagles. In the past Nemo has studiously ignored them, turning to look the other way, as if to say, “I need some time for rest and mediation, thank you.” In fact Nemo, who was clearly bred for hunting, ignores nearly every living thing except people and insects. He is as brave as a lion when his prey is a cricket or moth. Squirrels are fine as long as they’re already heading up a tree. Squirrels on the ground? Rabbits? Not so much.
This morning Nemo was the first to see four beautiful does standing in the woods. Before he could reconsider he lunged, dragging me along, and, for a moment, I thought we might see a deer stampede. Not so. Having proved his stout heart, Nemo stopped to watch the fun. The deer stopped just in front of us to watch him, clearly aware that they were in no danger.
Nemo was on the scent, and now he had to figure out what to do with it. After what looked like some serious beagle brainwork, Nemo decided he was born to watch. In fact we would still be standing there, the dog, the deer and me, if I hadn’t finally turned around and started back to the car.
I understand Nemo’s predicament. I’m on the scent these days, as well. I can sniff the promise of a new book. Ideas are beginning to race through the thicket in my mind, demanding I chase them down and corral them into some kind of order. Some disappear over the horizon, never to be seen again. Some are weak and not worth the effort. Some are fat and healthy and ready for me to walk right up to them. Like Nemo’s morning prey.
Together Nemo and I are lunging forward, watching carefully, taking mental notes. A book is in the wind, just as the deer were today. We plan to be ready.