“We’re not going on the Sunday morning hike. It’s going to rain this morning,” say Dennis and Virginia who drive me each week. So I’m on my own and need to make a decision. I check multiple weather reports that promise thundershowers later in the day. I call for opinions about the chances of rain and for directions to the site. Everything I’d laid out for the hike is put away and brought back out again as I waver on whether to go or stay home.
“Suki, what do you think?” I ask my dog. “Should we hike? It could be muddy. What should we wear? What should we bring?” I love to ask Suki questions. She cocks her head when my voice rises. Her tail flutters when she hears familiar words like “hike” and “cookies.”
The hike will only take 2 hours but with or without rain there will certainly be mud. Will I fall on a slippery downhill section? Will I be able to find the meet-up spot without Dennis and Virginia’s help? Will it rain? Should we or shouldn’t we go, I wonder? Finally, Suki and I take off for the site with a carload of extra towels and gear. It will be a nice drive even if we don’t stay to hike. I am still questioning Suki as I find the meet-up spot a half hour away in the hills of Caroline. There, 23 hikers and 5 dogs mull around greeting each other and watching the sky.
“Okay, it’s time to start,” says Stephen. And then the rain begins.
It pours as we march away from the cars. The grass is slippery. There are huge puddles on the trail and everything quickly turns to mud. Right away the wet seeps through the seams of my raincoat. Soon my waterproof boots make squishing sounds with each step. Suki’s belly and paws turn black and on her back I can see the pink skin of my normally fluffy white dog. For the first 10 minutes as we hike I keep track of the twists and turns in the trail with the intention of turning back if the rain doesn’t stop. But soon it becomes apparent that we will get lost if we leave the group. So we are committed to continuing. At least until others decide to quit.
Suki looks up at me doubtfully through eyebrows plastered down over her eyes by the rain. But there is nothing more to worry about. We are already muddy and drenched and the rain is not about to stop. So Suki shakes herself out, I laugh with a friend, and we hike on.
“Well that was fun,” I say to Suki later, back at home, after baths and blow-drying, laundering, lunch and a nap. “Now what can we worry about?” But I already know: the upcoming first public reading from my book. From which chapter shall I read? What should I wear? Will I stutter over my words? It’s only 8 minutes plus an introduction but will I do something embarrassing?
If you’re in Ithaca, come find out.
Sunday, August 4 at 3 PM
in the Dewitt Mall in Ithaca
I’ll be there come rain or shine, after the Sunday morning hike. What do you like to worry about?