Donut Angel, Baby Licking and Other Tails from the Trail

I decided to count my blessings, for lovely days on the trail, for donut angels and baby licking and parking ticket angels...

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Guideposts Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan and his dog Millie hiking in the woods

Sometimes I’m amazed (and amused) at how I’m looked after, usually undeservedly so.

My Golden, Millie, and I have spent the last few days up in the hills hiking, hanging out and doing not much of anything. This morning we set out for a fairly challenging hike on the Appalachian Trail. But first we had a stop to make.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has the world’s best donuts, at the Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe on Stockbridge Road. It is family run, family friendly and faith friendly. One of the owners, Jeff, says “God bless you” every time I clang my change into the tip jar and I know he means it as more than just an expression.

Anyway, I frequently stop there pre-hike for a cream-filled donut (not Boston cream, mind you, but vanilla cream—I am a vanilla freak). But only a vanilla cream. If they are out I skip the donut fix altogether. Not that they don’t have an amazing array of other homemade donuts. Call it my own strange form of sugar-intake control. Vanilla cream or nothing. I am a creature of extremes.

Today there was one left. Just waiting for me. “You must have a donut angel,” Jeff laughed. Donut angel. That’s a new one. I would have to tell our Angels on Earth editor, Colleen Hughes, about that. Who ever heard of a donut angel?

I shared a bit with Millie as we drove. She feels the same about licking babies as I do about vanilla cream donuts.

Millie Jo (that’s her full name) lives to lick babies. The day before, we had hiked Monument Mountain, very popular this time of year, which is why she likes it—lots of new dogs and people to meet, even babies. A couple of the trails to the summit are fairly steep but there’s one that’s relatively easy and lots of families take it. We were on it for a bit yesterday and we encountered an inordinate number of kids and lickable babies, much to Millie’s tail-wagging delight.

All right. I’m sure there is a perfectly prosaic explanation. Babies usually have food stuck to their faces. Hence the licking. But it’s more than that. She loves children. But babies send her into a delirium of ecstasy. Maybe it’s a maternal mammalian thing but I like to think of it as a kind of divine joy.

Fortunately so did the mothers. “Millie’s a real angel,” one said. “And a greater spreader of happiness and positive energy.” I would have to tell our positive thinking blogger, Amy Wong, about this.

Today I wanted to do something more serious and rigorous, though. So we headed south on the AT toward Beartown State Forest (ironically it’s been almost a year to the week that Millie warded off a bear on the Trail). The first part of the hike is relentlessly uphill so we huffed and puffed and panted in silence and a lovely morning solitude. We took a water break a ways in, then hit a flatter and very pretty stretch. I noticed something orange stuck in the branch of a gnarly bush. A piece of paper.

Exercising proper trail etiquette I snatched it for later disposal. Then it struck me. The orange was very familiar. I looked at it more closely and then burst into laughter. It was a parking ticket from Manhattan, where of course I work and live most of the time. And here it was 120 miles from the city, miles into the deep woods of Beartown. I couldn’t make out much information but the perpetrator had broken the law somewhere on East 77th Street.

I was shoving it into my pocket and telling an impatient MJ we’d be moving on presently when it struck me: In the glove compartment of my truck was a parking ticket that definitely needed to get paid and which I had totally forgotten about. Should I tell the editor of our Mysterious Ways magazine, Adam Hunter, about this quirky reminder? Did it even count as a Mysterious Ways?

I decided to count my blessings instead. For the blessings of beautiful lovely days on the trail. For donut angels and baby licking and parking ticket angels and anything else God has in store for us in the course of our day. I gave my dog a pat on the rump and told her how blessed it is to be alive.

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