This afternoon I took some of the very small amount of time in which I am not taking care of Cairo to sit at a beautiful spot that I know close to home where the Jock river meets the Ottawa river. There is a nice grassy area right up at the river side where it is nice to put out a chair and look at the scenery and while away an hour or two. It was an almost perfect day with the temperature in the mid twenties and the sky full of puffy, white summer clouds. The weather has been so grey and miserable lately that it felt liberating to sit in the sun and feel it warm my skin. There were two men fishing a short distance away and I enjoyed the sounds that their lures made as they hit the calm waters. After an hour or so a Mallard duck mother swam up with five ducklings in tow and they climbed the riverbank some eight feet away from where I was sitting and they joined me in enjoying the summer afternoon. I watched for some time as the ducklings preened themselves while the mother duck kept a vigilant watch for any potential trouble. After a quarter of an hour a man came up to the riverside with a large, friendly black lab, causing the Mallard to vacate her grassy resting spot and take her ducklings back into the river. The man with the dog was an odd fellow. He wasn’t simply strolling along with his dog, but he marched along as though he had some very particular goal in mind. It quite surprised me when he waded several feet into the river and took out some trash which he had obviously spotted from the shore. He hauled the garbage out with a clear-minded resolution and placed it into a trash receptacle which stood on the grass. Then, with equal resolution, he picked up a stick and threw it into the water for his dog to fetch. The Labrador jumped eagerly into the river but quickly abandoned the effort, leaving the man looking somewhat embarrassed as though his dog’s failure was his own. The man and his dog then wandered off and I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the afternoon.
When I opened my eyes they dropped on an interesting, and oddly pertinent passage in the book I was reading. The passage, which was from the periodical The Spectator by Joseph Addison, read as follows:
“True Happiness is of a retired Nature, and an Enemy to Pomp and Noise: It arises, in the first place, from the Enjoyment of one’s self; and, in the next, from the Friendship and Conversation of a few select Companions. It loves Shade and Solitude, and naturally haunts Groves and Fountains, Fields and Meadows; In short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no Addition from Multitudes of Witnesses and Spectators. “