Eli may be coming but can he be caught?

Woodstock, VT. The village quiet. The weather odd. Snow rapidly melting. Unseasonable warmth. The river rushed forcefully as it tripped and splashed over the rocks. The force and determination of the Ottauquechee River gave my husband Jon and I pause. Certain in its direction this January 1, 2023.

A commitment to exercise got us out the door. Daily for the month of January Jon and I are part of a team. Winter Warriors. We made our way through the Woodstock Village and backstreets early this Sunday morning. Runners and a few walkers were the only sign of life. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed one another. Happy New Year. Spirits were high. A silent celebration is always in order when the Vermont windchill factor is nonexistent.

As Jon and I neared the end of our four-mile effort we noticed the runners ahead had suddenly split apart. One abruptly crossed the road while the other yelled about a loose dog. Not panicked but to alert us. A Labrador was on the loose. The owner soon appeared on the sidewalk with a leash in hand.

He shouted out to us to grab the dog’s collar when he comes to say hello to us. Certain he was that he would. He did. Bounding through the neighboring woods and up the street toward us came a young beautiful black lab energetically running our way. I coaxed him to stop for a pat. I thought he would oblige my want to meet him. I was certain he would understand that I wanted to simply say hello. Couching my true intention. He came close to me but not quite close enough. His want. His quest for freedom was paramount…

He was wise to my intention and seemed quite familiar with this game. I asked the owner from a certain distance what the dog’s name was? Eli, he responded.  My husband made his way down the street to speak with the owner. We had divided to conquer. Unfortunately, we had underestimated our new friend Eli.  I continued the “catch me if you can” dance with Eli as we made our way towards his home. Delighted by his playfulness. His agility. The game. In the moment he was. Preserving his freedom while running with abandon.

                                              “What day is it?” asked Pooh. 
                                              “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
                                               “My favorite day,” said Pooh.
                                            ― A.A. Milne

As I closed in on his home Eli’s owner waited just outside their front door. Jon tried to engage Eli with a game of snowball throwing. I watched the black lab as he bounced off the air. He darted and dashed around us. Beautiful and sleek in his youthful black coat. A one-year-old lab the owner told us. Ahhhhh, we don’t stand a chance I thought to myself. The snowballs briefly held Eli’s attention and Jon carefully lifted his hand to reach for our young playful pup’s collar when a small blizzard of snow flew under his paws as he sprang into the air. Eli flew across the small yard barely touching the earth. Bouncing off the neighbor’s cement steps Eli was airborne. A porpoise-like height…

I could only smile and admire the purity of his spirit. Pushing limits and boundaries in his quest to live freely and in the moment. Nodding to myself I recognized the wisdom of our four-legged friend…

The owner was well “Eli” practiced. Once Eli had assumed a position in the snow just beyond our reach yet posed to spring should any one of us make a wrong move. His owner offered the black lab a snack. Enticed by his owners mention of food Eli’s ears perked…

                                            “Eat first, question later (if at all)” –Annonymous



Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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