August 18th, 2007


Sidewalk Moments

Lovely image last night: the sliver-moon, near moonset and soon after sunset, glowing behind a curtain of wispy clouds. I saw that on an evening walk, where I went past the top edge of the nature preserve (Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge) some blocks south of my apartment to hear the animal sounds. For visibility, I had on a white T-shirt (one of my Red Cross blood donation Ts) and my backpack with its red glowing light attached to it. The evening was calm and comfortable: perfect walking weather.

This was NOT disturbed by any car crashes, I'm glad to say.

As I headed south along Milwaukie Ave., though, I saw a man kind of half-riding, half-pushing a bicycle north along the same sidewalk. He then wobbled, and then did a kind of controlled collapse, landing on his side on a curb-encircled planter with no plants in it. Did he land badly? He seemed, at most, uncomfortable, not hurt. I asked him if he was OK. "Yeah," he said quietly. He then said something about "80 miles" (the amount he'd bicycled?). I replied, "You looked like you'd landed badly." Whatever his situation was, he seemed not to want someone sticking around, and he seemed OK, if tired, so I heeded his go-away vibes and continued.

Another encounter, a little earlier in the walk: I was still a block or two north of Holgate, and as I walked past a house a large dog started barking. The dog came down the steps from the front of the house -- I think it was a pit bull; whatever it was, it was a good-sized dog -- and was doing the seemingly-contradictory thing of barking and wagging its tail like crazy. (I say "its" because I didn't look closely enough to see if it was male or female, but I'll also say this: "It" is the wrong word, I think, for something alive.) I know it's not contradictory -- plenty of dogs enjoy barking, and I'm sure part of the wagging is Dogese for "Yay! A person! Yay!" -- but I stayed on my guard. And I wasn't impressed that the dog was out without being leashed, or being watched by its owners.

I tried to walk past, and it kept hovering around me; I almost tripped over it. I kept my arms up, crossed over my chest to try to look as non-threatening as possible. (I also do that because in one of Arthur C. Clarke's novels, I think one of the Rama sequels, the arms-crossed-on-your-chest is said to possibly be a universal sign of respect. I pick up on all sorts of stuff in my reading...) I said to the dog, "No. Go." It stayed close. I did the most assertive thing I could think to do at that moment: I stepped away from it, pointed to it and said, forcefully, "Home!" It stopped at that, and waited as I walked away. It then headed back towards the steps.

(Question, coffeeinhell: If it was a pit bull, which I think it was, did I handle that well? Doing that seemed to work...)

Other sights from my walk: the increasingly-weeded lot where the closed hotel used to be until getting demolished some months ago; home doors open to let in the cool air; and the Safeway "Ingredients For Life" billboard I passed on McLaughlin Blvd., making me think of my revised Safeway slogan, "Safeway: even we can be pretentious"...

Then I returned home, with no more odd encounters with humans or animals, where I relaxed online and opened my windows, letting the stuffiness of the day radiate away and be replaced by cooler air.

A good night.