Carrie Classon
Carrie Classon

I know I’m not the only person who talks to inanimate objects.

Okay, there are probably more people who talk to animals than nonliving things. My mother never talks to anything nonliving, to the best of my knowledge. While I was growing up, she talked to all our pets, which I realize is not unusual. But she frequently involved them in conversations that did not appear—at least to me—to be very interesting to the pet.

“Where did I put that bill?” she would inquire of the dog. The dog would look vaguely concerned but even my mom knew she was faking interest. Then the dog died and we were left with only a guinea pig.

“I don’t know that we have enough beans for dinner, Lima,” my mother would comment to the guinea pig, named Lima because she was Peruvian, which meant she had very long fur and looked a lot more like something used for cleaning than companionship.

“Maybe we should see if there is some corn in the freezer,” she would suggest and, to her credit, I never heard Lima object. But then, she was in a cage in the kitchen and her options were limited.

I have long, philosophical conversations with my dog, Milo, that clearly bore him. I ask him about the source of some unspecified anxiety and I explain to him my plan to become a more fully-rounded person. He sniffs where other dogs have piddled.

Occasionally I say, “Is that a bunny?” and he immediately looks wildly around and I feel a little guilty because, honestly, I was just checking to see if he was still listening.

But in the evening, I go running on the trail without Milo because he won’t run behind me and when he runs ahead, all I saw is his huge, fluffy, black and white tail. After taking two bad tumbles over rocks hidden behind Milo’s plumage, I decided to run solo and Milo gets two leisurely walks a day (which I sense he might enjoy more if I would shut up).

Running without Milo, I don’t have even a guinea pig to talk to (there are occasionally rabbits, but they are a lot rarer than I have led Milo to believe) so I’ve taken to talking to the trees.

I am only telling you this because I suspect, in my heart of hearts, I am not the only one who does this.

One enormous old pine is my favorite. It looks like it has been through at least a couple of forest fires. It sits at about the halfway point in my run and every evening I get the sense I am running to meet a friend.

“Oh, it was a pretty good day,” I usually say (because it usually has been). I sneak a look down the path because, as much as I like this tree, I’m not eager to be caught in the middle of a conversation with it. I tell the old tree if I am troubled or confused. The tree listens patiently.

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow,” I assure the tree.

I run down the path after wishing my arboreal pal goodbye. Usually, I steal a look back just as I am about to round the corner. I feel a connection with this living thing, this tree that is so much older and has survived much worse fires than I have. It puts my problems in perspective.

My tree friend looks impossibly strong and grounded and, for a moment, I feel just a little more that way myself.

Till next time,