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July 12, 2013


Marshalltown, IA


Missing in Action, Part Two


Upending my trailer in the mud wrestling match and running low on water had shaken my strength and confidence. I lingered, enjoying the company of the motley crew at the motel, which had a number of regulars as well as locals who enjoyed joining whomever happened to be enjoying the welcoming porch.


I relished the moments reminding me of why I so desperately missed the small-town camaraderie while bustling daily through the concrete jungle along Michigan Lakeshore. Watching sunset, searching for frogs (or lost phones), or petting dogs while rocking in a chair are some of life’s richest pleasures.


After two years of city bustle with appointments and parties, recitals and gallery openings, classes and committees, my soul needed the refreshing succor of rediscovering a simpler life. After only two days of small-town solace, I was at last revived well enough to continue.


Even before the smile had faded, though, I was hit with the other side of humanity’s reality.


My girl and I had fallen into a pattern: wherever I land, we find a shady tree under which she may rest while I step into a nearby building to eat, to blog, to shower…whatever we humans think we need to do to survive.


A friend from the motel had chosen to meet me for lunch at the next biggest town, driven to the larger area as smaller town citizens are wont to do when they are unable to find what they need within their own small town limits.


Today’s goal for him: a key the local hardware store was unable to cut. My goal: a few miles closer to home.  


The restaurant we had chosen to meet at was closed for remodeling, so I left my bike parked under a shady tree, taking my girl with me to another restaurant, where I did my typical action, securing her to yet another tree.


While pacing the confines of my concrete jungle, walking to and fro researching Chicago’s public art, she had been my constant companion, trudging along beside me, plopping to the ground patiently awaiting me while I conducted my interviews, shooting my images, flipped through my guidebooks. She and I had become comfortable companions, understanding one another in ways I honestly never expected to achieve with such a furry, huge creature.


On those occasions, as well as those along the trip, when we were separated visually, I would always greet her well before reaching her, and she would stand, stretch, and wag her tail in greeting.


As my new acquaintance and I approached the tree where she had been fastened, my heart sank. She was no longer there. My chest tightened, and I was shocked how quickly the feeling turned to sobs, which didn’t cease until I had placed three phone calls to the local police, human society, then city vet.


It appears a “concerned citizen” had contacted the police, who in turn directed the person to the humane society, who, like the police department, had encouraged the “concerned citizen” to leave well enough alone, that the dog did not, indeed, appear to be “abandoned.” The person chose to take the dog to the city vet, taking it upon herself to do a “welfare check.”


The vet staff was helpful, chuckling a bit at the situation as she wagged her tail in greeting as soon as she heard my voice.


Missing in action. If the trip, as it turns out, is too hard for my old girl to handle, even if I arrive safely, it will have been made in vain.


Perhaps I need to reevaluate the wisdom of all my decisions. Some things, as I have learned, like a wagging tail, are bigger than anything else in the world….



DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.