Yesterday, I posted a lot and cried a lot. One of the things that made me feel the most was reading all of the comments about Bradley on Facebook and replying to each one. It felt like a community of grief to me and it’s exactly what I wanted and needed. Thank you for being a part of that circle and for sharing your grief about your own four-legged friends, too.

While doing so, my friends Nancy and Gerry noticed that we were all in the White Mountains! Serendipitously, Nancy and Beth had been trying to arrange a dinner date while we were in NY to no avail. So, we did it here!

First, we met at Mt. Cannon, a ski resort that features an Ariel Tramway during the off-season. Together, we went up to 4080 ft and walked the rim trail around the mountain for a couple of hours, chatting, taking photos and – most of all – marveling at the views.

When I was a boy, I went to a summer camp in Maine. I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot because many of us nature-lovers came to the Whites for an extended trip every year. When I was 12 or 13 I hiked a lot of these mountains including Mts. Lafayette and Lincoln and walked across the long ridge between them.

For the most part, I HATED mountain climbing. Walking uphill for 8 hours was hard, friggin’ work with a 30lb backpack. Can you say sore feet? That said, there was no denying the awesomeness of the views, the satisfaction of a challenge completed, and the camaraderie that went with it. So, it was a mixed bag. Come to think of it, I was hurting from my parent’s separation around then, so a dirty, grit-inspired slog up a mountain probably put my hardships in some perspective. Mountains will do that for you.

At this point in my life, I take it a lot easier when it comes to endurance tests, so taking a tramway up the mountain was AOK with me!

After the mountain, we returned home to fetch Bradley, our instruments and some jackets because it was time to meet Gerry and Nancy for dinner at their cabin in Lincoln, NH. Nancy cooked us a wonderful dinner (Salmon, Corn on the Cob, Salad) and then we enjoyed a couple of hours of singing around a campfire. Bradey lay down at my feet between me and the fire and enjoyed every minute of it.

One of the ways that I know it was fun for me is that my muse showed up. Instead of playing all of the hits from the 70s (nothing wrong with that), I found myself composing songs in the moment. I also shared songs from “Create Without Caution,” which I’m usually a bit timid to play in these situations. So, I must have felt comfortable with these folks, in these mountains, and with this dog at my side. I also would say that being present with my grief and my happiness helped bring me into the moment, too.

I’d like to also validate for myself that I am doing this without the aid of alcohol or drugs. When I was a 12-13 year old boy, I was just starting to experiment with pot and soon thereafter, booze – a dalliance that lasted for more than 50 years (in the case of alcohol). Nowadays, I go through everything sober including grief. It’s definitely MORE and that can hurt sometimes, but it’s better for me.

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