4. Wise as Serpents

Today is bright as it is bitterly cold. Pru and I have not been for our morning walk. We will go later. We brave the cold for one minute in our frost covered garden. Pru pees and then runs back to the house. Pru is definitely the right dog for our family. Why go for walks when you can stay snuggled inside! We will go for a walk when the sun rises a bit higher in the sky. We climb the stairs to the office. I begin to write. I can tell that Pru has not been for her morning walk. I think she can tell that I haven’t been for my morning walk either.  When to go? When to stay? When does being at home become smothering rather than comforting? Pru has flipped and wrestled her bed to the other side of the office as I type. We probably should have braved the cold. But it is so cold. Her bed is slowly deflating as more white cloud like stuffing is pulled out. Pru digs for imaginary badgers.

I think of Prudence as Pru energetically chews on her bed. Prudence is a serious topic. Great thinkers have had a field day with Prudence in the past. It is all very serious and I think of Dolly Parton. Dolly is a woman that can make wise choices with amazing foresight. She kept her I Will Always Love You song. She didn’t sell it to Elvis. People said she was crazy not sell her song to the King and then Witney Houston strolled into the room. This reminds me of Dolly’s friend and fellow singer Kenny Rogers. His song The Gambler is one of my favourite songs. I like songs that tell stories. I was raised in the South. Southerners are steeped in storytelling. The Grand Old Opry is just a poets club dressed up as a music hall.

How did Dolly Parton go her own way? How did she know to stay on her path and not someone else’s. I worry about someone seeing lent on my coat, or having food stuck in my teeth. Admirable people push past the lint and the fear and walk out the door. They say that Prudence signifies caution but that is incorrect. She is the symbol of wise conduct. The statue of Prudence, the allegorical figure in human form, is a woman who has a serpent that wraps around her arm. The serpent is derived from Matthew 10:16 ‘Be ye wise (prudentes) as serpents’. I bet Dolly knows that scripture well. 

I’m not sure about serpents but there is a 5 month old pint sized dachshund that needs to be taken for a walk. Serpents would freeze in this weather. Pru barks for a walk and I reluctantly stop typing. I will think about serpents on our walk. Wise as serpents. 

Pru and I go for our walk. Today we make it past the corner to a brook that runs under a medieval bridge. We feel cold but proud of ourselves. Pru stops often as we walk to the bridge. She is a cautious dog when she isn’t at home. She is close to the ground and everything seems big and dangerous. She stops when cars pass by on the road or when someone is walking towards us on the pavement. To her everything seems like a potential threat or danger. I reassure Pru that the women walking towards us is of no danger. Pru is not convinced. She stands still until the woman who carries a sleeping baby in a sling has passed by. Pru is young. She is getting used to the world around her. Every sound, smell, car, person and bicycle are reasons to pause and occasionally bark. Pru can’t tell the difference between real danger and her fear. I finally pick her up and carry her the last little bit to the top of our drive. It will take more walks, time and experience for Pru to wisely judge what she should worry about and what she should not. Pru the puppy and Prudence the virtue and allegorical figure make perfect sense in my world. 

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