When I walk through the woods I am surrounded by bounding dogs, and keep my attention on them, or on the trees, or the birds, or any overt evidence of another being. I’ve trained myself over many years not to look down at my feet, so that I don’t miss all the wonder happening around me at eye level or above. My company this weekend, on the other hand, is practicing mindfulness meditation, sitting and walking. I headed home with the dogs to start dinner, and she meandered through the woods bringing her full attention to each step. This involved looking down. I hadn’t been long in the kitchen when she returned unexpectedly early, and showed me a photo she had taken of a track. In great anticipation, I hooked the dogs to leashes and we returned to the arroyo where she had seen the track. We followed the path of a bear along the drainage for a good way, all four of us extra alert.
This will make morning walks more exciting. The bears are entering their hyperphagic phase, in which they consume mass quantities of food in preparation for hibernation. We will be extra mindful.