It’s literally EIGHT THOUSAND DEGREES outside. And although I can’t measure the humidity as accurately, I think it must be like ONE THOUSAND PERCENT. And I’m sitting here staring at another lawsuit taking place on my computer (“Whereas, in EVERY SINGLE ACTION, ALL EIGHT THOUSAND OF THEM, the Defendant has taken reveals DISCRIMINATORY INTENT.”)
Oof. WHY DO WE LIVE HERE? AND WITH THE WORST WINTERS TOO!
Time for a drink. The dogs, huddled in front of the air-conditioning vent, look at me. Little early for that isn’t it? I hear them say. Ok not really – I made that last part up. But I do see them saying okay it’s hot…but you do have to walk us.
So we get the leashes and bags and the boys get what’s going on and Legolas jumps up and down with excitement. Aragorn is too cool (and sort of too fat honestly) to jump up and down and just pushes Legolas out of the way because Aragorn is always first. Because Aragorn says so. We already walked around here today, so we grab the car keys and go to the Wissahickon. (We could walk there but it’s 8,000 degrees and uphill on Springfield Ave. on the way back. And my carbon footprint is small, except for the A/C set on 42 degrees because it’s hot.)
We drive down Springfield with the boys each hanging their tongues out of either side window in the back. Think twin Labrador antennas. We dodge a couple of amazingly fit bikers who are basically as wide as one of my legs as we go over the bridge into the lot opposite Valley Green Inn. The lot is a little crowded with families, and bikers and runners and others enjoying the heat (what?) but we find a space and park and the boys jump out. Back when they were little and pups we could walk back on the trials (unleashed – shhhhhh.) But now they are too big so I hold their leashes as we set off down Forbidden Drive.
Forbidden Drive is a kaleidoscope of people, Philadelphia at its best, all types of people (and dogs) enjoying the outdoors. Seeing the families with kids, I remember back to when I was little and Dad used to take us here, parking on the Lincoln Drive lot, which back then was more primitive. We’d walk all the way (“Aww, really? We have to go all the way?”) to Valley Green, which was always closed. At least that’s what Dad told us because we could never get anything there, and if it looked open he’d tell us how our mother would have a good dinner when we get home and we could just wait. I don’t remember the crowds back then either, and there sure weren’t bikers, or runners either, all that came later. Mountain biking wasn’t even invented yet. Instead we looked at trees and rocks and talked and every so often I would fall into the Wissahickon, just because.
I never brought our kids here when they were small. We were all the way in a far distant land known as the Main Line, and there were other recreational options for them out there, so we never walked the drive. Now the oldest ones are gone, all out West, where it’s less hot, and less cold, and the one still at home has her own life so instead I’m walk with my second set of kids, the two boys, hairier than any of our first set of kids, on Forbidden Drive, fifty years after I walked the drive with my dad.
Legolas is bouncing along, off the end off the leash. He has figured out exactly how to stop at the end of his leash so he doesn’t hurt himself. Aragorn is not nearly as bouncy, but he is first, his leash is a little longer, and for him that’s really all that matters. He drags me over to the edge of the drive, next to the fence, every so often, and I drag him back to the right side, where we should be walking because this isn’t England, and as we walk on the right side of the drive I tell him but he ignores me, which is kind of what we did to our dad, and my kids did to me, whenever I walked anywhere with them.
We pass by the area where people are swimming in the Wissahickon below the Devil’s Pool, and Aragorn decides he wants to go down the stairway which cuts off the drive, to the Wissahickon. He looks at me, takes my non-response for permission, and drags us down the stairway. And it is hot, so I take his leash off, and he goes in the water. Legolas doesn’t like to swim, so we both stand by the side of the creek, Legolas sort of bouncing, and both of us watching while Aragorn swims around, looking like a seal, with only his head sticking out of the water, turning this way and that, and looking for a goose to chase but they are all upstream honking for food from the people near the Inn.
Finally we have to go and I call him, and he slowly comes over, making only a couple of detours, pretending something caught his attention, but it’s really because he wants to swim more, and he finally, slowly, gets out, shakes himself, Legolas jumps on him, Aragorn growls, and we walk back up the stairway and back to the car.
We are cooled off and move slower, and say hi to the people who smile at the dogs, and occasionally the dogs meet other dogs and I am reminded once again that life goes on and people and dogs and nature can bring calm and peace and cool. And how lucky we are to be here. Even when it’s eight thousand degrees. With one thousand percent humidity.