August 18, 2007

Lessons learned: Seeing Polk’s beauty through Sgt. Major’s eyes

Editor's note: In a previous post I told you that I was working on a commentary about attending various activities on post and writing about my experiences. Last week my boss decided that it was such a good idea that I should make it a series and write a commentary each week. This is the third of that series.

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (Aug. 17, 2007) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

Veterans of deployments, whether Soldiers or Family members, can tell you that despite the best laid plans, there will be times of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. I admit that during my husband’s previous deployment, I sometimes wanted to grab my puppy, crawl into the deepest part of my closet and stay there until my husband walked through the door. Unfortunately, my closet is not big enough to pack all of the food and supplies that I would need to camp out there.
As another deployment looms, I try to think of creative ways to relieve stress that won’t relieve me of too much money.
I grab our dog, Sgt. Major, and a bottle of water and decide to explore my neighborhood, hoping some time in the sun will help me discover what I am looking for.
Inquisitive dog that he is, I know it will be a slow expedition. As he sniffs trees and anything else low enough for the nose of an English bulldog, I realize that maybe he has the right idea. Why should I be looking elsewhere for entertainment when it’s right in front of me?
Fort Polk is brimming with nature, a display of beauty offering a rainbow of color. With housing areas nestled in wooded areas, residents can catch glimpses of frolicking deer or shy rabbits during the right season. Magnolia blossoms and other fragrant flowers fill the air with a heavenly scent when in bloom.
As Sgt. Major pulls me along, exploring branches and light poles, I too explore, seeing our usual path in a new light.
“The grass has started to thicken since Picerne took over the housing areas. It looks so inviting in some places,” I say to myself, and as if on cue, Sgt. Major decided to roll around under a tree.
“Maybe later I’ll join you,” I say to him with a laugh as he gets up and shakes the grass off his coat. “Let’s see what else we can find.”
He greets some other dogs along the way, others he completely ignores as some phantom scent catches his attention.
As we walk past the small park in our neighborhood, he sits and watches children play.
“Too bad they don’t have a playground for you,” I tell him when he looks at me with pleading eyes. A few children come closer to pet him. He tries to remain sitting, but his back end shakes with excitement at the extra attention.
We begin our exploration again as the children return to play. We head for a wooded area behind the park and I let his leash out completely as he explores the bushes and logs.
“Those ivy covered trees are beautiful, don’t you think?” I ask him, but he is too busy with a spider on a log. “I wonder if wild berries grow back here?”
We follow the spider for a while before it realizes it is being stalked and scurries away. A squirrel catches Sgt. Major’s attention and we’re off again.
After losing him in a tree covered with pink flower clusters, my little explorer turns his attention to the mailboxes.
“I guess you never know where you’ll find something interesting if you don’t give it a chance,” I say to him as he circles the post, looking at it from all angles.
After a while, we head back home for some ice water and rest in front of the fan.
As Sgt. Major settles in for a nap, I wonder what other Fort Polk “secrets” I’ve missed by not giving them a chance.
I make a list of other places to explore –– North Fort trail, Marion Bonner Park, and more. I guess in the end, where you are stationed is what you make of it. If Sgt. Major can be entertained by a mailbox, surely I can find something here for me.
So I challenge you, find something new to do as a Family. Whether it’s afternoons in the park or exploring nature on one of Fort Polk’s trails, it’s what you make of your life that counts. Family memories are not valuable for where you were, but for what you did. Your next adventure may be only a walk away.

Cutline: Sgt. Major searches for the squirrel that got away while exploring Fort Polk.

For more articles in the Fort Polk Guardian, visit our web page.

2 Tea Party Guest:

stitcherw said...

Loved your write up, and it is so true, dogs find wonders where ever they are, they totally live in the moment and appreciate all that is around them. My two also take slow walks, they need to stop and sniff and check out everything. When rolling in the grass you can see the expression of doggy bliss they have at that point in time. Pets are such wonderful companions, and they can teach us much. I'm glad you have Sgt. Major to keep you company when your DH has to be away.

smilnsigh said...

This is a precious entry. And the message goes for all of us. Regardless of our life situation. We should all pay more attention to the world around us. Those with a Sgt. Major, are luckier, 'cause they have a built-in guide to this way of living.

But we without a doggie, can still do the same as you and he are doing. When I take pics for my Photos-City-Mine blog, it gets me out and about. Good for me! :-)

So maybe my digital camera is *my* Sgt. Major. I know that daily walking just for health, SHOULD be. But those 'should' things just never work as well as the 'fun' things. Sgt. Major and taking pics, are more fun than plain old walking for health, hu? -grin-

Hugs to you,