Following the flash-flood rains this weekend, the morning was cool. Banner and I left for town about 9 a.m., late for a usual summer walk but enjoying the approaching fall in the weather.

The streets near the park have been under construction for a couple of months, so every trip to the park requires a detour, different every week or two. I’ve been navigating the side streets and alleys, touring the neighborhoods. Formal detours have been abandoned here. We have watched as the process unfolds, trying to understand the goals. First, one side of the street was dug up. Then yellow gas line was buried. This occurred in several areas around town. That wasn’t yet the end of the project. Next, the street was recovered with concrete, but the barriers were left in place. Metal pipe was brought out, laid in 20′ sections on top of the road. Eventually, this was placed on supports, all the same height of about 18-24″, then welded together and coated. A plug with a loop was welded on the west side. An opening remained next to the intersection. It looked like the crew was preparing to slide this under this intersection rather than tear up that part of the road. This seemed wise, given that traffic in this area was nearly constant. However, moving the pipe down at an angle without breaking the welds looked precarious. Since we walk almost every day, I’m hoping not to miss this event.

Today, after all of the rains, the workers on the west side of the intersection were vacuuming the red clay mud out of that opening. That could be an all-day effort.

Walks in the park are often informative as well as enjoyable. This morning as we parked, a little girl around five appeared on a small purple scooter. She was wearing pink pants, a pink shirt and a pink helmet with cat ears. My first reaction was concern; what was a kid so young doing at the park by herself? Did she cross that busy road by herself? Then I thought about the parenting efforts being used in some areas to teach kids responsibility. Still, walking across that road would leave me with too much concern. She seemed fierce in her independence and was enjoying her scooter. Then she crash-landed. I watched out of the corner of my eye to be sure all would be OK without expressing concern. I expect that too much supervision isn’t good for kids who are developing independence responsibly, so you want to be prepared to help if needed but not place fear in their minds about what should be mundane. No problem – needless worry. She got right back up on the scooter and went about her joy-riding, then crash-landed again, got up, repeat. A little later, Mom, an older sister and a big shaggy dog appeared from the other side of the trail. I told her mom that if I had any concerns about female independence in this social climate, it looked like things were going to be OK. She smiled but concurred.

I am never concerned about Banner having a lack of independence. Or most of my nieces, for that matter. As it should be.

On Friday, we passed one group of people setting up at a picnic table. They watched Banner as we passed, and one lady asked, “Isn’t that a . . . Lewis and Clark dog?” I think this is a new one for Lars’ list of things Newfs have been called. It was a new one for us and it isn’t in the list on my T-shirt.

Last Friday was Food Truck Friday, but it was much too hot for a Newf. She didn’t get to go back, since that occurs in the evening. It did explain why she seemed extra eager to go for a walk that morning, but Fridays being Happy Fridays, that may have produced the extra spring in her step. All Fridays are followed by the Farmers’ Market on Saturday. We walked in the rain on Saturday. Sometimes kids are like mosquitoes – they swarm to pet. This time there was just one kid who wanted us to stop in the rain so she could pet Banner. I smiled and said, “Next weekend”. She’s a regular, so it wasn’t a one-chance opportunity.

Yesterday, one of the workers opened the truck door and asked if Banner was a show dog. I said that she wasn’t now, but that she had been shown. There are few times when I meet people who recognize her qualities, whether that is specific or abstract. Most of the time, she finds admirers with compliments. Occasionally we meet someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate sharing the space of the park with dogs. And we met one of those this morning too. But we passed a second time and he made an effort to smile. Banner tends to have that effect on people.

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