The Puppiness Project – Remember You’re a Part of Nature

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.

Today didn’t start out well. When I finally got myself up at 6 a.m. I couldn’t think of a thing to write.

Today I plan to launch a new blog and all I felt was fear in the pit of my stomach.

Golden Retriever Dog and Woman in front of Ithaca Falls

This is no way to experience nature. Let's go slide down the icy falls!

Oh yeah, and I’m off work today so I’ll be alone all day. (I know you introverts don’t understand my dread. To give you a taste of how crazy I get when alone–I once considered hiring a cleaning person; not because I needed help cleaning but because I wanted someone to talk to while I cleaned myself. No joke!)

I knew Honey wasn’t thinking crazy like me this morning. So what’s the difference?

I could write about the higher reasoning powers of humans or all that hooey. But I notice something else about Honey–she’s always willing to fully engage with the natural world. She rolls in the snow or the mud or the half rotten fish. Honey alerts to every sound in the woods. She doesn’t hesitate to go outside because it’s too cold. Honey never forgets she’s an animal.

I’m an animal too but I often forget it. I rage against the cold and wish I could go back to bed until June. I sit staring at a computer screen far too much. I forget to smell and taste the outdoors.

So Honey and I went out for a long check up with Dr. Nature. But first I bundled up in my best approximation of a fur coat (long johns, wooly socks, sweater, two jackets, scarf, mittens) before heading out into the 10 ° F  (-12° Celsius) day.

Frozen waterfalls

Only a small portion of the falls remain unfrozen. Look carefully on the right side.

We ran up the gorge trail until we were both panting. Honey ate some snow and I did too. I admired the beauty of the hills; Honey sniffed the bouquet of urine left behind by canines who walked before us.

The waterfalls weren’t the only reminder that nature is much more powerful than we are. When we got home, I spent 5 minutes melting ice balls from between Honey’s paws and my legs are still burning a bit from the cold.

With the roaring falls audible from my back porch and four seasons of dramatic weather, I have no excuse for not remembering I’m an animal in nature– no matter how much I try to shelter myself from it sometimes. It’s a good thing I have a Nature Dog as a reminder.

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  1. Wonderful nature. Bogged done in daily “stuff”, there is nothing better then following your dog on a beautiful nature walk. Glad there is still some animal left in us.

  2. I love the waterfall picture! One of the things I am most glad about since we adopted Morgan is that we started hiking on the weekends. She needs the activity to keep her grounded, but we have seen some of the most beautiful sights and places. When I’m surrounded by nature that way, I feel like it always revives my creativity. I’m glad you two had such a great start to the day after all!

  3. What a gorgeous spot to have so close by!

    It is really hard to get movtivated to leave the house some days. I have sympathy. We have a digital thermometer set up so that I can tell the temperature by looking at a little screen on top of our fridge. Yesterday morning, if I wasn’t already awake, the negative numbers on the screen would have done the job.

    But you are right. We are a part of nature. The more we force ourselves to explore, the happier we are.

    Your story about wanting to hire a cleaning person made me laugh. If we did that, I would have to make sure I was out of the house the whole time he/she was there. “What if they’ll want to talk to me? Ahhhh!” It’s interesting you have such an opposite reaction. :-)

  4. Oh, and the new blog looks great! I look forward to your advice.