If you are young and you are reading this, here is a scary thought – someday you will be married more years than not. To reach this dubious milestone, you will have to learn to work out the problems of living together. St. Jerome, best remembered for his bad temper, says, Solvitur ambulando, – “to solve a problem, walk.”
I have been married to my wife now more years than not. The kids are grown and we are too often alone. It seems like we are a little too quick to criticize, to complain about things that don’t really matter.
I acknowledge, I am the problem.
To solve my problem I follow St. Jerome’s advice – I walk. I load the two dogs up into the back of my GMC Yukon and off we go in search of solitude and adventure. Normal haunts include the old quarry pit at Lake El Dorado where Toby, a mixed Jack Russell Terrier and Mountain Cur, and I like to swim. Toby barks like a seal when he swims. I try to stay out of his way for I liken his constantly moving paws to the killer shark in Jaws. Sammy, a German Shepherd stays mainly on the shore. Sometimes, if it is really hot, she will daintily tread into the water and make a spin before returning to the shore.
There is also Pawnee Prairie Park on the west side of Wichita where we go to chase deer. The deer, flags raised are off in a flash. The dogs give futile pursuit but quickly tire and come back tongues lagging from their mouths.
Finally, there is South Lake where we go when time is limited. It has the clearest water of all the lakes, ponds, and creeks in and around Wichita. It has the disadvantage of being the most crowded spot and, sadly, the most trash, beer bottles, coke cups, and empty bait cups that fishermen and party-goers leave behind. In spite of the trash we still go. The clear water lures us and the hope of finding a kindred soul or canine.
On all of these sojourns, the two dogs and I will occasionally come across someone worth talking to. And if we are lucky, someone will have a dog or two for Toby to play with. Sammy is always leery of other dogs, and so she growls and barks for a time before settling down to an unsteady peace.
Recently, the dogs and I changed the time that we would arrive at South Lake. In spring we went in the midday sun. Being summer now, we wait until the hour before sunset. It is cooler. It is also prettier. The setting sun casts colors of red, blue, and violet across the lake.
Half way around the lake we came across a pack of five dogs and their three owners. The owners, two women and a man, stood on the shore, while their five pets, ran to and fro. Being ever so polite I asked if we could join them for a while. Toby ran and swam and had a grand old time. Sammy growled and barked, but eventually found her manners. We spoke like strangers do, of dogs and the weather and sunsets.
“Walking is man’s best medicine,” says Hippocrates.
It was nice. The dogs got their walk and I had a moment without giving or getting criticism or complaint. And the sunset was gorgeous.