Off North Road

Lost gloves path

By Russell Hoxsie - May 3, 2007

My three-year-old Springer named Ticker and I walk every day for two miles. I should say she helps me walk by maintaining a pace of a mile and a quarter per hour and adding oomph to my climbing the mild elevations along Flanders Lane. Although I expected Ticker would have slowed down a bit before she got to this age, she retains the same extraordinary energy and restless walking she showed at a year and a half. Her retractable leash allows her to trot at least three times the distance she travels than I do: back and forth, to one side and then the other, often requiring me to unsnarl the 20-foot line before we continue.

Together we observe the changes of the roadside by the season. Ticker is more interested in smells in the undergrowth than I am in jetsam alongside the road. Travelers are pretty careful about disposing rubbish from their car windows. Every once in a while, when a new crew of workers arrive in the fall to build, re-build, or repair another home, there is a small eruption of old "Dunkin' Donuts" paper cups, Budweiser cans and "take-out" cartons tossed to the side of the road. All in all, I'd say a B-minus average grade for environmental sensitivity. Sometimes we see something unexpected or surprising. Once, a length of nylon cord masqueraded as a snake which provoked us both to a reflex side-step. We passed it in exactly the same spot for months before someone must have picked it up to save at home. Another time, a pair of red and white sneakers lay together, still wearable, until someone must have taken them to the pond to ease her feet when quahogging on rocky bottom. Another time, a worn and muddy blue watch cap, probably torn off the head of a hiker who tried to take a short cut through the brambles, was soaking up water in a very large puddle. It must have caught on a briar until wind carried it to the road.

Most recently, a series of gloves has been deployed, three or four along a half-mile stretch evenly spaced at about quarter-mile intervals. One was cotton with a blue cuff, flat, all four fingers and thumb arranged stiffly in a posture of exclamation or surprise, perhaps in the gesture for "STOP!" by a traffic controller at the site of tree work on the roadside. Had its owner been so flattened also by a falling tree branch or pick-up passing too closely on the road? Two others formed a disparate pair, green and orange entwined in a slightly weird hand clasp. They reminded me of Barnum and Bailey clowns exiting a tiny automobile in seemingly impossible numbers to the center ring and everyone's delight.

Another, a heavy pair, matched, quite new and with densely reinforced fingers, must have been dropped in haste by a volunteer clearing the verge of rampant poison ivy. No sensible person would pick those suckers up and run the risk of transferring a smear of ivy oil to his hands, face, or more sensitive parts below

Morning after morning, these residuals remained, ignored by obsessive picker-uppers like me as they grew limper and flatter, yet ever in their initial pose: excited, controlling, laughing (the clowns) or in death. They provided a note of variety in the hibernating carpet of the adjacent late winter woods. However, life now returns to our cold damp spring with promise of morphing to early summer. Soon there will be movement even in the inanimate objects along the way. Paper cups, nylon line, beer cans will begin to hide behind the lush green which will creep upward as the phoenix must have done after his burning in the desert. By the end of summer, more junk will have been thrown away but Ticker and I will be most interested in the fate of any more flattened gloves.