On our post sunset dog walk at the Naperville river walk, Janet had Shorty and I was tethered to Millie. On these walks I see the dog world at ground level and vicariously smell with the dogs’ heightened olfactory sensitivity. Every bush, patch of grass or light post holds a wondrous variety of scents; as does that dog totem: the fire hydrant.
Noodling along the red brick path, I noticed the large spruce ensconced in the middle of the ball fountain. The tree decked out in tasteful white lights with full branches spread beyond the perimeter of the circular fountain across from the Nichols Library. Beyond the fountain on either side of the entrance to the wooden bridge, we encountered religious displays; one a nativity scene, the other a menorah. North Central College students had left a “Happy Holidays” message on the sign.
Shorty wanted to investigate. Janet pulled him toward her as he began to lift his right leg over the holy infant. I mused over whether any outraged non-believer had yet raised a legal objection to the overtly religious displays on municipal land. I took no personal offense. These human totems struck me as quaint expressions of our mythic heritage. Why do we imbue them with so much power over our lives?