Dec. 3, 2022


Every day is an adventure for me and my wonderful friend---Cubby Bear—who I often call “Big Dog.”  Cubby and I have been together for more than eleven years and---we know each other well.

Christmas Day, 2021, proved to be an excellent morning for our daily walk/hike.  We had seven or eight different trails to choose from for our daily adventure yet-- that day--something inside kept-urging me to take our “favorite” trail—the one we hadn’t traveled in more than six weeks.

The trails we enjoy are almost-all located in the Desoto Lake Area, about ten miles from our house so-- I usually drive to the Lake’s Spillway Dam-- park the car then--- we start from there.

When I pulled into the parking lot closest to our favorite hiking trail, I wasn’t surprised that we were the only car around.  For just a second or two--the “little girl” in me felt emotional and--a little sad.  Thankfully, the feeling soon passed, as I began my daily checklist of --- cell phone, Cubby’s dog leash, car keys, sunglasses, concealed weapon, windows closed, so- the car was ready for lockdown.  Where-ever I go, security is an absolutely-must for me.

The sun was shining, the temperature was in the sixties, and Cubby and I were ready to “greet” Christmas day.  Cubby usually walks  a few-feet-ahead BUT--every few minutes-- he looks over his shoulder to check on me. 

For some reason, since early-morning, I’d thought of nothing but China. Perhaps I was remembering all the Christmases I’d spent in Beijing.  Just-maybe I was thinking about my Artist friend and his family-- who contact me often about returning to China. I love and respect the Chinese people for endless reasons but, most of all, for how they, consistently-treated me with kindness, caring, and--love...when I traveled their Wall and when I taught English to their children.  Perhaps my thoughts were in China because, recently, I've been thinking about returning to China to spend--- the rest of my life. 

When Cubby and I reached the top of the trail’s small hill, I stopped to examine a heart-shaped rock lying on the path in front of me. As always, Cubby stopped too.   Suddenly, I noted a change in his posture. His eyes stopped staring at me and instead-- began focusing his attention directly- over my left shoulder.  Turning to follow his gaze—I realized there were three people, climbing the same trail,  and headed in our direction.  For more than four years,  Cubby and I have traveled this trail—our favorite---and today was the first time we  ever-encountered---people. 

I moved-quickly to attach Cubby’s leash, then walked the two of us to a small area- away from the designated path.  As the threesome reached the top of the small hill, I greeted them and quickly-explained-- how Cubby was friendly and gentle and---certainly no one  to fear.  Because Cubby is a large dog with long hair, his size-- alone can intimidate strangers, especially those who are afraid of big dogs.

I soon learned the couple and their son were first-time visitors to Hot Springs Village and were “checking out” the Lakes, Golf Courses, and the Hiking Trails. I listened attentively as they explained how they had driven  to Arkansas—from Chicago to spend Christmas in a place where they knew no one. More than anything, I wanted them to answer a very-personal question and---it was important how I worded that question:   “Have you lived in Chicago--all your lives?”

The woman was the first to answer:  “We are originally from China and---soon after we married---we applied to live in America and--that was twenty years ago.”  She introduced their son and added that he was a college student, studying Engineering.

I quickly-shared a few “tidbits” about my strong connection with China and the couple seemed genuinely- surprised. Try to imagine being Chinese and-- while hiking a wilderness trail in the state of Arkansas—you “bump” into a woman who'd  traveled The Great Wall of China and--also-lived and worked in China.

Cubby and I encouraged our three new friends to continue their hike while we waited behind to hunt for rocks.  When they were well-out of sight---I returned to the car with Cubby.  I felt completely overwhelmed with our recent encounter. As you know, nothing in my life is a coincidence. I’ve never heard of any Chinese-- ever living in Hot Springs Village or even visiting The Village.  In fact, I haven’t cross-paths with any Chinese since 2008---when I left Virginia and moved back to Arkansas.

Timing is everything.  Just one moment in time--- made all the difference in whether our “paths” would cross or not cross-- that Christmas Morning.  Was this God’s way of answering the big question I ask him-- every day-- about  whether or not I should return to China?!?!?

Stay Close,




Latest comments

17.10 | 01:42

I miss being Facebook friends with you! Hope you are well and happy.

Tammy Brookover Jay

15.10 | 01:28

Love all of this. I'm so lucky to be your neighbor,

30.08 | 16:26

Sally, my friend, I love your writings and sometimes they make me cry and then smile. I love you as if I had known you all my life. God Bless you each and every day in all you do.

29.08 | 19:19

Lol, I loved reading this story! As a female that dated a couple men with Harleys, I totally understand and met Harley Guy myself, many times over!
I hope you get your 3wheels someday soon!

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