Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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GUEST POST: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Walks With Sam’ With Author David W Berner

Good Morning, Friends!

 

Kimber here. Mom and I are delighted to share a guest post by the author of one of our favorite books, Walks With Sam. Sam is a dog. A very astute, reflective dog. Ya know. Like me. In fact, I think Sam’s my new best friend!

 

Anyway, in this guest post author David W. Berner “walks” us through why and how he wrote this rich and wonderful memoir about contemplative walks with Sam. (Psssst! It started with a blog. No kidding!)

 

Walks With Sam will be officially released tomorrow, September 1! Don’t forget the virtual book launch on September 13. Details below!

Take it away, David!

***

An Idea

More than two years ago, I had an idea. What would it be like to reinvent the dog walking experience? Not so much for my doodle, Sam, but for me. All the experts say walking is a meditative, contemplative endeavor. Ask any of the great walkers—Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, John Muir. But this time, what would it be like if the dog led the way? What if Sam was my guide?

 

A Chapter Change

It was a new time in my life, a chapter change, if you will. My only sibling, my younger sister had recently died after a long battle with alcoholism, my mother and father had died years before, and now I was what remained of the family of my youth. What is one supposed to do with that? I was also turning 60, a milestone age, and considering what would come next, how might I move in the world in my final years. A sabbatical from my position at the college where I teach had given me some freedom, and although I had projects to complete—a manuscript to finish and edit—I decided that I would dedicate myself to daily walks to allow my mind to find balance. And Sam, my young dog, would join me. She, too, needed those walks.

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Shushes, Small Things, & Plain Vanilla

Shhhh!

I’ve heard this a lot lately. Mom’s been working on a project. She calls it The Story. She’s spent like a million years at her keyboard working on it. Or maybe it’s only been 20 minutes?

Anyway, The Story is finally finished. Here it is! (Can I bark now? Like, real loud? Cuz this is like a big bark-worthy thing here, ya know?!)

Find out more at: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More.

Here’s one of my favorite parts. Near the end:

High above the river a bald eagle soars in slow circles. Dropping like a stone, the majestic raptor glides low over the water, talons out, and spears a fish. Great wings beating, he climbs to the nearest conifer to tear and eat. Northwest clouds cough out a cold chorus as sable night seeps over the Olympic Mountains.

Night rings down the curtain on day. Ideas roll around in my head like lost pennies. Small things like eucalyptus trees. A Michigan dairy farm. Guitar lessons. A first love. Girl’s chorus and my first creative writing teacher. Lunches and lagoons. Summer adventures and sheer stupidity. Time is like a penny. Life stories that don’t always go the way we planned. Clark Park, to which I’ve never returned….

… Peering out the window at a rising moon, I give thanks for family, friends, and a roof over my head. I recall A.J. Covington’s advice to a fledgling Walton writer and pad back to my keyboard. I can’t help but smile. You were right, Doc. You were right, indeed.

Mom says, “Sometimes even ‘plain vanilla’ has flavor.”

You’ll get that if you get The Story. Woof!