Walking in the wind

My wife and I went for a walk to the park this morning. Yesterday it was so nice out, when I left for work, I was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans. But this morning’s weather was noticeably different, I could feel it from inside the house, the window in the second bedroom was open just a crack, and it was significantly colder, way too cold for just a t-shirt. I grabbed a hoodie thinking that I’d be OK.

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But I wasn’t OK. The wind was just way too powerful. Like I’m not even sure that a jacket would have helped much, because my face would have been equally assaulted by the wind. I think my dog was uncomfortable too. He’s kind of feral as it is, but these gusts, he just get squirming, fighting the leash, twisting his nose and his neck up and around, as if some sort of mysterious scent had been carried from far away, like he needed to follow a million phantom trails.

I always think about that, about my dog, about him running away. I don’t think he’d run away on purpose, but I could imagine him getting a whiff of some food or something from blocks away, and he’d be off, and that would be it. Would I ever see him again? I like to think that, yes, I’d find him, or he’d find his way back home, but it’s such a big city, and there are so many cars, and does he really know where we live? Like in relation to other buildings?

Whenever we go for a walk with the dog, we’re on the sidewalk, we’re going to pass other people. I get it, that not everybody loves dogs, but I don’t get how some people are so terrified of our pet. It’s like, we’ll be walking down the block, we see someone else walking in the opposite direction, and they’ll make a visible face of terror before crossing to the other side of the street. You really think my dog is going to bite you?

Of course it doesn’t exactly help that, every once in a while, the dog will be moved to jump toward a random person. He’s not violent at all, but he’s big, and stupid. It’s like when people come over the house, his first reaction is to jump all over whoever walks in the door. Yeah, I guess if you’re not used to it, or if you’re already somewhat nervous around dogs, this might not be the most welcome of gestures.

But yeah, today he was just totally unmanageable. He was pulling ahead, gnawing on his leash, barking at every dog that we passed on our way to the park. We always stop for coffee along the way, and usually we just tie him up outside to wait, but for whatever reason, he wouldn’t have it today. He just sat outside and howled, to the point where everybody inside the coffee shop was giving us that look, like what the hell is wrong with you? Go outside and take care of your dog.

We got to the park and it was even windier out in the open space. I spotted these plants in the middle of the grass and I told my wife, “Look, those are onions right there.” And it’s not like she wasn’t interested, but yeah, for whatever reason, I was very interested. “Onions?” I could tell she didn’t believe me. “Yeah, wild onions.”

And they were all just sprouted out of the ground. I made a plan, like I’d grab the whole bunch and just pull them right out of the dirt. But when I actually did it, when I put my hand around the sprouts and pulled, nothing came out, the green parts just all broke off. And yeah, they were definitely onions. I got that onion smell that hit me in the face all at once. Worse, it wasn’t a clean break, it was like all of those onion stems kind of got mushy and turned into a green onion paste that was now all over my hands.

“Gross,” my wife said, and yeah, I tried to play it off all cool, but it was pretty gross. I smelled like onions, and there was nowhere for me to wipe my hands off. It was kind of like earlier last fall, we were in the park and I saw these plants, it was definitely Swiss chard. “Look honey! Wild Swiss chard!” and I should have just left it alone, because as soon as I touched those green leaves, I noticed they were wet, and it hadn’t been raining out, and what if it was some dog or squirrel that had peed all over them? And I couldn’t wash my hands, I was so far away from home.

I don’t know why I can’t just admire the plants from afar. It’s not like I’m a forager or anything, I’m not going to take this stuff home and eat it. The next time I’m out and I see any sort of vegetables growing in the park, I just have to remember to keep my distance. It’s like, I get mad at my dog when he starts chewing on garbage, why is it OK for me to start pulling things out of the ground? I’m telling you, I washed my hands like five times since we’ve been back, and I can still smell it, onions, it’s like it’s in my nose, all the way up.

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