Monday, May 3, 2010

Dagny Johnson Dawn

I discovered this place before I picked up Cheyenne but with a dog this sideshow of a state park is even better. And early on a Spring morning it is truly excellent.There are myriad rules of course. I had roused myself from a fractured slumber before five o'clock that morning and found myself driving through the night to meet a friend suddenly arriving at the Miami airport at a most unfriendly hour. Cheyenne however is the one that needs a walk, and deserves to walk so we stopped our headlong flight at the best place I know in this part of the Keys.It was seven o'clock and the sun was up though not high enough to penetrate the undergrowth of this leafy park. Dagny Johnson has a weird ambiance to it created in part by the wide highways and this bizarre circular gazebo piazza, the creation of someone presumably Dagny, with lots of money and too much time on their hands.I confess, mea culpa, it was the dog's fault I dare say, but we took a trail designated back country permit only. And we had no such permit.
A fine specimen of a yellow Labrador waiting impatiently for the idiot with the camera, but without the permit. This shortcoming weighed heavily on my mind. The place we found in the middle of the woods was as serene as could be, barely illuminated by the sun, the sky a deep cloudless blue.
Cheyenne loves her wilderness puddles and here she was, figuring how to get down to the shore from her rocky promontory. To me it looked like muddy water. To her it looked like a lake of beer.I myself was starting to look like a rather tasty bottle of beer to some of the residents. I killed a few but they leave no welts and barely bother me with their slight stings.I am no longer young, my skin is not elastic. Cheyenne is though, and the eight year old Lab had scrambled down the rocks and was fulfilling all those drinking dreams she had when she was in captivity with her former owners, before they unceremoniously dumped her at the pound.
These fresh water ponds are created by quarrying activities years ago when such environmental degradation was not only permitted, but encouraged.For some reason these wooded scenes put me in mind of the descriptions I have read of Civil War battlefields in the early hours of the morning, the peace and serenity that come before battle. Even though I could hear the occasional car passing on Card Sound Road I felt like I was transported to an earlier century, before the advent of infernal combustion.
And as the sun came up over the trees, dissipating the uncertain early light and replacing it with a golden veil over everything , I thought: "Shit! The airport!"And I looked at the time jerked awake from my reverie and realized we had plenty of time, if we hiked.
So we plunged into the greenery, the sun in our faces, pushing aside the branches and following an indistinct trail through the un-permitted wilderness.
I felt I was marching to the Battle of the Wilderness on this cool fresh morning and it was wonderfully restorative for a drive to Miami. We met other dogs out enjoying the start to the day, more conventionally on the main road through the park.
We chatted about the pleasures of getting dogs from shelters and she remarked on the absence of people usually, so I did rather feel I interrupted her private off leash moment. All dogs were relaxed, (they usually are when not being yanked on by a fearful owner transmitting their fear to the leashed animal who reacts defensively) and the encounter put a final touch on a fine 45 minute detour.Much better that than this:But I got the job done eventually and if I was late to the airport I blame the traffic, not the dog.