The Bare Brown Earth

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It’s a cold spring day in Niagara; a perfect day to take Rocky for a walk by the gorge. Winter weather has lingered longer than we’d hoped. Rocky is a mixed breed, bulldog-like dog, whose personality matches his breeding. He’s zesty, determined, scattered and at times a cowering little lovable babe.

He greets me with his usual enthusiasm at the front door, looking for a friendly word and a pat, and quickly swallows the remains of the food in his dish, in case there’s a shortage. Today is a frosty 30 degrees, and the wind blows heartily from the split earth, down below. Rocky decides we’re going to cross the highway, and follow the path that follows the gorge.

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There are many piles of leaves, on the snow-less brown earth, that beckon. He must sniff and rummage before the final determination of whether or not it is worthy of his mark.

I bundle the scarf up around my neck and am grateful for my imitation leopard cuffed gloves.

I take in the spectacular view, and the openness that early spring brings. There is very little snow, and the path is of tanned earth and scattered stone. The trees stretch out across the bright blue sky, swaying back and forth, and I note the one tree I love so well, which has a limb that stretches out as wide as the tree is tall.

The earth looks almost naked today. Vulnerable. Somehow open to critique and criticism. There’s no charming greenery and the limbs are bare. The river has lost its turquoise attraction and instead appears as a thick muddy greenish French Canadian split pea soup.

It’s all okay to me. Sometimes it’s good to be without makeup and to slip into something casual and comfortable and take a break.

My own fresh hairdo is promptly mussed by the lanky frigid fingers of the wind. I chew straw-like strands as it whips into the corners of my mouth. I think how it’s good to really know the lady this well, that she lets me into her sitting room without pomp or circumstance. That I am able to see clear across the gorge, with an unobstructed view of all and see the dainty frozen icicles hung from the frigid sheer; to see the bare brown skin, draped only by the simplest essentials, arranged as a modest covering.

It is no surprise, because I’ve known her well for a very long time. We hide no secrets from each other. I’ve shed tears and laughed with joy in her presence and she tells no lies. I’ve written in the crook of her arm at the foot of a tree and peddled alongside on a bike that held me and my little girl. I dated my husband here and had my wedding pictures taken along her banks. She and I are good friends. So I consider it a privilege that she feels as at ease with me as I do her.

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Rocky thinks so too. He’s mighty comfortable and very unceremonious about it all, actually. He just barged through the door without so much as a how do you do, fully aware that the gorge, the river and all her glory will be waiting there for his walk tomorrow.

As for me, I think I might appreciate her finery just a little bit more. And I must say that I’m looking forward to warmth, a new floral dress and a cup of Earl Grey.

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