The name Sweet Slugabed comes from the 17th Century poem “Corinna’s Going a Maying,” by Robert Herrick. I first read it in college, and ever since, the words, “get up sweet slugabed and see/the dew bespangled herb and tree” have been my internal reminder to go out, to see, to participate in and celebrate the beauty of our world. This blog is an attempt to answer Herrick’s call from centuries ago. While the poem was written to a young girl, at least closer to the age I was when I first read it, as I get older these words have taken on more urgency: “our life is short, and our days run as fast away as does the sun.” This blog is an attempt to capture something of the beauty in my days as they run away—to, no matter what the season, make sure that while I can, I go a Maying.
Here’s the thing: poetry is always made up of the concrete. So when Robert Herrick is calling for his sweet slugabed to get up and go a Maying, he describes a pastoral British landscape: flowers, birds, parks, streets and open fields. I live with my family in the heart of Washington, D.C. The subjects through which and with whom I set out to go a’Maying include the following:
Ubi has been dead for several years now, and I haven’t actually posted much about her in part because I still miss her SO much I can’t find the words to describe her. Ubi came into my and my husband’s lives years ago, when we were newly out of college and the world seemed to hold infinite possibility. In fact, Herrick’s line “See how Aurora throws her fair fresh-quilted colours through the air” speaks to me now of those years. I met Ubi for the first time in the middle of Central Park and walked her home to our apartment, the first of our adventures in that wild park in the midst of the dense urban island of Manhattan.
If there is a being in this world who knows how to seize the day, it is Pundit.
My husband plucked him as a puppy from some young people having a sidewalk sale before they moved to Mexico who had found Pundit wandering alone in a park. That was in 1998. He has been our companion in joy ever since.
If Pundit spends much of his life in a state of joy I wish I could emulate, Cholula is more like me, hemmed in by fears and anxieties, most of which are all in her head.
I found her at a local D.C. shelter in August 2010, when she was three or four years old. Shortly after bringing her home, I realized she had some problems—specifically, fear-based leash aggression against other dogs—and reached out to Natural Dog Training founder Kevin Behan for help (see below). I like to think that Cholula and I are working together to conquer our fears in time to, while we can, go a-Maying.
Natural Dog Training
I write about my experiences trying to put natural dog training methods into practice because I’m fascinated by it, and because even my inept efforts to follow its methods have led to sometimes startling results, first with Ubi and Pundit, who I trained according to Kevin Behan’s first book, Natural Dog Training, and next with Cholula. On Kevin’s website, he describes natural dog training thus:
“The founding principles of Natural Dog Training are that what is most natural about the dog, its wildest essence, is good, and that dogs are social by nature. Even with the most troubling ‘problem behaviors’, nothing is “broken” and so nothing needs to be “fixed”.
By appealing to this fundamental aspect of a dog’s mind and centering our training models around this idea, a dog’s cooperative and loving nature can become the most pronounced aspect of its character. Natural Dog Training’s methods are all about working with your dog’s energy, rather than fighting against it.”
While I don’t feel as free to discuss my children in a public forum as I do my dogs, they are the essence of my efforts to seek out and pass on an appreciation for the beautiful in our lives, everywhere we can find it.
I grew up here and live here again. I love it—and my love for it has little to do with the things most people associate with the city. As well as the monuments and political theater, I love its urban streets, its rivers and creeks and parks, its commercial and residential areas, its incongruities, and the natural beauty that surrounds it.
I hope you enjoy sharing my D.C. Secrets, whether or not you live in this city.