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The Pounding Fathers

Mom is “saving up” for a big adventure, so we’ve been exploring close to home on the weekends. This morning we went to a place called Mt. Hamilton. “Wait, like the guy in the songs?!” I squealed. “Like, there’s a million things I haven’t done! Just you wait, just you wait! That guy?!” “Same guy,” Mom said. Alexander Hamilton is my favorite pounding father because just like me he was adopted, he was wise, he liked to write, and best of all, he was reliable with the ladies.

Mom stopped the car at the entrance gate, and when the lady leaned out to take Mom’s parking tribute, I knocked Mom out of the way to shout through the window, “There’s a million things I haven’t done! Just you wait!” The lady opened the gate for me, and I waggled my tail panting, “Just you wait! Just you wait!” into Mom’s ear until she finally opened the car door.

When I jumped out of the car and into nature, the air was wet and the sky was smudged out. “Are you sure that we’re not going to get rained on?” I asked. “The weather report said that it was going to stop raining an hour ago. I’m sure the storm is just blowing over,” Mom said hopefully. But the thing about rising up, whether you’re a man or a mountain, is that the storms find you first and leave you last. When I looked up the hill, the storm was still huddled around the top of the mountain and looked like it planned to stay there for awhile. “Goody goody gumdrops!” I said. “No one is going to be here!” I’m super friendly and bark a loud and boisterous hello to everyone I see on the trail as I charge up to them, but Mom is afraid of other people. She only feels safe running without me by her side if she knows nobody is going to catch her off leash, so I only let her run unattended when we’re alone.

We started running up the mountain, but the trail was still in rough draft mode where everything that wasn’t directly in front of me disappeared into a grey-white blankness. Since Mom’s the one that plans our runs, maybe her mind had been somewhere else and she was too distracted to finish the arrangements. “What are you thinking about?” I asked. “I’m thinking about all the great places that I want to go,” Mom said. “Instead of thinking about the million things you haven’t done, why not look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now,” I suggested, running through the muddy grass next to the trail to remind her how much fun we were having. Mom looked around. “I can’t see anything in this fog.” “…We just happen to be in the greatest city in the world!” I reminded her. “What? San Jose? It’s alright I guess, but I don’t think anyone would call it the greatest city in the world…” “Well, that’s what the song says. Stop being such a Peggy,” I said. “I think what it means is that if you’re always planning big things, you’re not noticing that the best part of the story is already happening right now. Maybe this is the moment where everything is opportunity and possibility because nothing has gone wrong yet.” “Maybe you should talk less and smile more,” Mom snorted arrogantly. “I don’t think you’re appreciating the achievement that Hamilton is about. Plenty of rebels win wars, the big achievement was in how well the founding fathers planned ahead.” “Oh! I thought you were thinking about running, not changing the world!” I said. “What are we going to fix? Are we gonna cure cancer? Invent clean batteries that never run out of power? Get rid of all drugs and give people their lives back? I can’t wait to be so famous that I’m on the $7 bill!” “Well no, I was actually thinking about our next few weeks of running and chores.” “And they put you on money for going on runs and doing chores?” I asked. I wasn’t really sure where history came from, but I thought it came from bigger stuff than that. “I suppose not,” Mom admitted. “I’m trying to decide if we should run more miles now that I’m getting my fitness back. What do you think about doing a streak where we run every day…?” “Mom, why do you run like you’re running out of time? You can’t run any mile but the mile you’re on, and you can’t run on more than one trail at a time. If you’re always thinking about a different trail than the one you’re on, you’ll never be satisfied,” I pointed out. “Because I’m young, desperate and hungry, and there’s a million things I haven’t done? I don’t know. Enough of the Hamilton quotes. Seriously.”

Since Mom was being a stick-in-the-mud, I turned back to the trail in front of me. There still wasn’t much to see. No matter how hard I looked, I could only see the next tree and none of what was behind it. I thought about all of my Friends who kept posting about the thousands of miles they hadn’t run yet. It must be tough running with the weight of hundreds of miles on their backs when they didn’t even know what the next mile held yet. But then I remembered how Mom finds her way around places we’d never been before. Maybe humans can see the future better than dogs can, and that’s why they like planning so much. “Hey, Mom,” I said. “How did the pounding fathers know about internet privacy, and veterinarian insurance and bitcoin when those things hadn’t been invented yet?” “They didn’t. They knew that they couldn’t anticipate every situation, so they invented a system of rules for making decisions as times changed. I think the genius was in the rules they made about what rules could be changed, and how to change them. It’s a little bit like running a route we’ve never visited before,” she said. “Most of the time all you have to do is follow the trail, but sometimes the trail goes in 2 directions and that’s when you’ve got to make a decision.” “So if you can’t see the future, how do you know you’re turning the right way?” I asked. “I check my map and follow the trail that takes me in the direction I want to go.” “What kind of mapp did the pounding fathers use if they didn’t have Witches in their pockets?” “Um, I think you’re talking about the constitution. But let’s not take the metaphor too far…” “Okay! Hey, I bet I can guess what’s behind that tree before you can!” I said, sprinting ahead so I could tell the future. “IT’S TURKEYS!”

Oscar the Historian




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