Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

12.25.2016

In Dogs, Memoir, Travel on December 25, 2016 at 7:56 pm

There was a surprising number of people at the trailhead this Christmas morning. Some of them wished me a Merry Christmas, which I returned. A few simply nodded and smiled. It was a beautiful morning, crisp and clear. Yesterday’s rain in the valley dropped as snow in the Catalina’s in front of me. These are rugged mountains, not particularly tall, but jagged and naked. Over the ridge is a Bighorn sheep refuge and dogs are not allowed. So Lucy and I kept just shy of that. I had her tethered to me by a rope I’d stowed in the truck. I’ve kept her leashed in this manner since coyotes paraded through camp two days ago, heads down, eyes glancing here and there, totally insolent and bold. It’s a long rope and she gets to sprint every so often, as is her nature, while I have the comfort of keeping her safe. A month or two ago, it was in Colorado, I think, she was off leash and lost to my sight when I saw a big eight-point buck come storming out of a little copse of woods down by the water. Lucy was giving chase. She was easy to spot, a little black dog against the white field of snow. The buck wisely headed up hill and Lucy’s short legs soon gave out on her. She has the heart of a giant but the body of a simple dog.

I’ve had dogs all my life and I’ve written about them here plenty. Where it not for my dogs I would probably not have the morning walks. It’s as simple as that. And my morning walks are close to a fashion of prayer for me. I guess, if logic holds, my dogs have been personal prophets, pointing a way, sparking a thought, instilling wonder. Before Lucy was Maggie, and before her, Cleo, and Punkin before that–all assured of my morning attention, thankfully. Emerson said of Thoreau that his thought and writing was in direct proportion to the length of his daily walk. Thoreau himself claimed a need of at least four hours of sauntering. He called it sauntering which I particularly appreciate. He did not need a dog to make him get up and get going, but then he was a different type of human being altogether. Me, I prefer the companionship of my dog. I am never far from the thought that they, my beloved canines, are rushing through life by a factor of seven. Such future sadness is, for me, a motivation to remember each morning and moment.

Two mornings ago I hiked up to ruins left behind by the indigenous people of this valley fifteen hundred years ago. When the sun crested the ridge the plateau came alive. Birds sang around me. The sun suddenly warmed to the point I took off my down jacket. The morning light turned from steel grey to warm amber. I don’t go to church but if I did it would have to be like this, out of doors and without doctrine, pure and undefiled. These people, the ones who existed here, I’m told, had to make multiple trips down to the valley each day to get water and forage for food. I’m sure their existence was hard and my morning ritual would have been lost on them. Modern existence is not without challenges but the rudiments of existence, for most us, have been addressed and for that I am grateful. Merry Christmas, friends.

To Transform Awareness…

In Creativity, Family, Memoir, Photography, The Examined Life, Thinkers, Travel, Writers on August 12, 2010 at 3:46 pm

“I recently asked some friends what they would grab from their house if it was on fire and they had only three minutes to escape. This question has intrigued me for some time. I can’t remember when I first thought of it—or maybe it was put to me at a dinner party by a host desperate to get things rolling. Regardless, I am curious about what people find important, and this question speaks directly to the issue. It is, too, I confess, a self-serving question, as I am trying to figure out what is important to me and am hoping someone will help me down that path. Anyway, my friends on this afternoon answered typically. Of the four, three said they would grab the family photographs. The holdout said he’d reach for his guitar. Guitars aside, in my unscientific poll, most people say they would most miss their photographs if all their belongings were irretrievably lost.”

To read the rest of my meditation on photography (among–too?–many other things) and why we take pictures please go to Obscura Press.

The Polar Express

In Life, Memoir on January 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm

The Polar Express, Eastern Prom, December 23, 2009

Do you see the expression on this child’s face. When did we lose that?

Christmas came and went this year, and how. It was weird. Carole and I traveled to Maryland for Christmas. It was the first time in, god, how many years?, the first time in probably thirty years that we were not in Maryland surrounded by kids and family, a Christmas tree, decorations, maybe a party. Instead, on Christmas morning we woke up in an empty house. Empty. Except for a bed and two sofas. No kids. No fire in the fireplace. No tree. Nada. And you know what? It was  nice. It was a Christmas without. Without all the stuff. Without presents even. Instead we went to Aunt Jane’s and we surrounded ourselves with family. It was a wonderful.

Do you see the expression in the child’s face, looking at me, the photographer standing outside in ten degree weather trying to get the shot? So, what is the kid thinking? Gee, look at that guy taking our picture? Or. Gee, I’m so excited, the Polar Express, the smell of cider in the train car, mom and dad laughing, Santa getting ready? I hope the latter.