The park is better than dinner, almost. Human says she has to clear her head — that it’s not procrastination, not at all, just part of the writing process. Trouble doesn’t care what Human says, as long as she has the car keys in one hand and the collar in the other.
You might think that the park gets to be boring after a while, but Point Pleasant Park is 75 hectares of woods and walkways, mostly off-leash. At the very tip of a peninsula, its rocky shores are refreshed daily with flotsam and good smelly things. In the fall a clever dog can eat blackberries right off the brambles. There’s always something to notice, and even the most unpromising things deserve to be investigated in case they turn out to be Good Things in Trouble’s Life (GTTL). Whether ducks, squirrels, or recently vacated mussel shells, there’s something of interest almost everywhere. Everything connects with your passion somehow, says Trouble, if you keep sniffing.
The off-leash park is a very GTTL. There’s pleasure just in doing your business there. You can find just the right spot, whether you like leaves or bare ground. You can take all the time you want, and you can try to leave it behind for others to find. Human is hard to escape though: she has an eagle eye and will pursue Trouble right into the scrub, plastic bag in hand, to clean up after her. It can even be amusing to watch Human scramble through the undergrowth with her plastic bag, gathering burrs and scattering expletives.
A city walk is much less fun, but a contemplative dog knows better than to compare the pleasure of any now moment with any remembered or anticipated one. City walks tend to be more practical events, and business at the end of a leash is not as much fun. The choice of location is more limited: Trouble likes the top of a snowbank, especially if it’s a long way from the sidewalk. She also likes to turn around several times, presenting a challenge to the leash-holder. Humans need challenges, Trouble finds; otherwise they tend to be oblivious to the moment they’re in.
Running offleash is akin to what we call exploratory writing, or expressive writing, or even free-writing. You can follow whatever trail you like, or stand nose-aquiver in the heather. There’s no purpose to it except to discover what you didn’t know you thought, or uncover something quite new to you. It’s fun. Sometimes you produce something for someone else to discover, but that’s not why you do it. It’s not like writing for a reader. There are more constraints to that exercise. The secret, as Trouble has discovered, is to treat those constraints as challenges, and find the fun in them, too. Just like pooping at the end of a leash.