"I started Early—Took my Dog . . ."

“. . . and visited the Sea.” I have not read the poetic works of Emily Dickinson in many a post-collegiate moon; yet, as wayward as my memory may be, I never forgot those glorious opening lines. You might say that is has long been an ambition of mine to utter them, to experience for myself the magic they evoke; but, until recently, I have failed on three accounts to follow Emily in her excursion. That is, I had no dog to take along; nor did I never live close enough to the sea to approach it on foot, at least not with the certain ease that might induce me to undertake such a venture.

Now that there is Montague in my life and Cardigan Bay practically at our doorsteps, the only thing that prevents me from having such a Dickinsonian moment is a habitual antemeridian tardiness. If “All’s right with the world” when “Morning’s at seven,” as Robert Browning famously put it, then I might as well roll over and let it bask in its easterly lit serenity. It is for the early birds to confirm of refute such a Browning version of bliss.

Besides, as Victorian storyteller Cuthbert Bede once remarked, it is “well worth going to Aberystwith [. . .] if only to see the sun set.” So, I’m starting late instead and take my dog for evening visits to the sea. No “Mermaids” have yet come out of the “basement” to greet me; nor any of those bottlenose dolphins that are on just about every brochure or poster designed to boost the town’s tourist industry. They are out there, to be sure; but unlike Ms. Dickinson, I’m not taking the plunge to get up close and let my “Shoes [ . . .] overflow with Pearl” until the rising tide “ma[kes] as He would eat me up.”

Not with Montague in tow. Dogs are not allowed on the beach this time of year. It is a sound policy, too, given that Montague frequently manages to confound me by squatting down more than once, especially when I am only equipped with a single repository with which to dispose of the issue. Is it any wonder that I’d much rather start late, preferably under cover of night?

On this sunless Tuesday morning, though, I started just early enough to keep Montague’s appointment with the veterinarian. No walk along the promenade for the old chap, to whom the change of schedule was no cause for suspicion. Now, I don’t know what possessed me to agree to his being anesthetized to have his teeth cleaned, other than Montague’s stubborn refusal to permit us to brush them. I trust that, once he has forgiven me for this betrayal of his trust, that we have many more late starts to meet and mate with the sea . . .

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