Place Blog #6: Mae and I Face the World

In this week’s readings, Couturier talks in “A Banishment of Crows” about what the Celts call “a thin place.” This is in my mind today. I think about these geographic locales in which the past, present, and future are never far apart. Charlotte is my thin place.

I am having a bad day, anxiety wise. My chest hurts. My hands shake. My shoulders rise and knot. I came to the park later today -after my work. I’m wondering if that wasn’t a mistake since I also skipped the morning walk with Desmond. I brought my papillon, Mae (aka “buggy”), with me to the park today to try to soften the edges a bit. Sometimes it’s easier to be in the world with a dog, but Mae, she’s just as anxious as I am. She barfed on the ride over.  She shakes now, too -she seems to be experiencing sensory overload with all the kids, people on skates and bikes, birds and the sounds of trucks in the distance.  I need to bring her out more often. The only way to cure her of her anxiety is through repetition. She flinches as three mallards fly toward us. Papillon means “butterfly” in French. I think of how Monarchs fly such great distances and how Mae came to be mine. All the things that had to happen. I had to lose a cat named Cosette whose favorite spot in the world was my shoulder. She had to be rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri by a group out of Atlanta. I had to find Papillon 911 rescue group and fill out a book of an adoption application. There was a home visit. They were thorough. They had to meet my other dog and make sure our home was safe. They had to pick her for me. They were our match makers. I had to drive to Atlanta to get her. It took months for her to settle into a normal life; she was so scared of everything.

She watches everyone that walks by -dog, goose, duck, or human. After about ten minutes of sitting at a bench, she licks my nose and settles into my lap; her shaking stops. I haven’t stopped shaking, but it has lessened and if I weren’t under dressed for early spring, I might let my shoulders down.

The ducks and geese seem quieter this time of day. All but the pair of mallards sleeping under the blooming forsythia are in the water, drifting. Mae drops a big, gloppy drool on my lap and snuggles up against my ribs. Her warmth and the chattering of the mallards is of comfort to me. My eyes are starting to itch because of the gathering pollen. There are yellow dunes left from puddles that dried after yesterday’s rain.

A mockingbird seems curious about us -flits about from the pond wall to the tree to the ground beside us. There’s no nest in the little cluster of birch trees next to us. The white spots on his wing feathers and his quizzical eyes make me happy I’m here. As soon as I try to take a picture of him, he flies away to the cherry trees, which are also in bloom. The air is thick with their smell. The sun comes from behind a cloud and warms us -human and dog sitting on a bench on a cool spring afternoon.

I notice a ladybug on the arm of the bench. Grateful, again for a moment of peace. One of the sleeping mallards wakes, flies to the water.

On the walk back to the car, I notice how much has changed -how everything is flowering. Mae still clings close to my side but at least she’s no longer shaking.

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