Millie decided that I needed an Australian Sauvignon Blanc for dinner and deigned to break her summer diet to take me to Sea Grape on Hudson. Sitting, a corgi’s profile is much the same as standing, still, she knows her shopping. Wine for me, a cookie for her, what could be better?
It’s a beautiful night and dinner in the oven at home won’t be done for another hour. “Millie, let’s go to the river.” Not in a hurry, I let Millie choose the route. (Doesn’t she always?) I’ve been away for a few days while she had a stay-cation at home with a friend, so it feels like a first date as she takes me on one of her pleased-ta-meetcha pub crawls to boast about her neighborhood.
The first stop on Hudson is Cowgirl Hall of Fame where she might lasso a fence-hopping nacho. Next, the bench at Ready to Eat is in her Zagat’s guide for hearty handouts, and not a teetotaler, she takes a chaser at Mexicana Mama’s watering hole. The willow oaks’ sparrows and starlings seem to have taken a vow of silence for the evening – not a whistle to be heard.
Heading west, Millie defends her sidewalk against the two lordly shar-peis, gentry of their magical domain at 121 Charles Street, surely the most enchanted kingdom in Manhattan. The Cardinals and Robins that binged on cherries here only a few weeks ago are indulging elsewhere tonight. Catty cornering across the street, Millie continues bar-hopping to the water dishes at Uncle Funkys (probably the closest she’ll ever come to a truce with skateboarders) and then a cursory sip at Coffee. At Washington, oh how she’d like to stop in at Beasty Feast, looking up most disapprovingly as I cross the street instead. This summer I never found the nest of the Blue Jays that set up housekeeping somewhere along Charles Lane, but the scruffy blue chicks of August screamed of their parents’ success.
A Mourning Dove pair dawdle on a balcony rail, but there are no swallows or Chimney Swifts scribbling through the evening air (perhaps they’ve already headed south), and once again, there is not a hawk sitting on the Big Yellow Crane of the Whitehall construction.
The traffic light at West Street changes from a sunset yellow to red. Not breaking stride, Millie barks back at me with the happy excitement of crossing to her park.
Today was one of those perfect September blue bowl sky days, which, ever since that blue sky September morning twelve years ago, still gives me dual dollops of unease and sweetness with its unblemished perfection.
However tonight, I shiver with contentment. A Common Tern out on the river dives for an evening snack. He’ll be leaving soon too. Millie pulls to the railing. Ah, just in time to see the summer’s Black Duck family sailing across the sunset. I haven’t seen them since one of their first days out – ducklings in a row behind Mom – and now they’re a jostling flotilla, full grown.
Home. “Millie, shall we go home for dinner?”
Visit www.keithmichaelnyc.com for the 2013-2014 NYC Wild! Nature walk series.