Images are either by the author or by Migueltzinta Solis
It’s July, the most outdoorsy time of year in the northern hemisphere, and season of Cancer, the sign famous for hiding out in its house. Funny, because Cancer—sign of the mother-child bond, emotions and things that grow—is actually very connected to nature. Unlike indoorsy Libra, which finds nature just a lot of work or Aquarius, which gets bored when away from its channels of information, Cancer’s issue with the outdoors isn’t the poison ivy, or the weak data signal—it’s the people. Overwhelming, demanding, difficult people who insist in gathering in the sunlight and making noise and generally distracting the Cancerian from her own important inner rhythms. (And rushing the Cancerian. There is nothing worse for Cancer than being rushed.)
I live in an old mining town that is far from anyone’s definition of pretty. The downtown buildings are low-slung, sixties functional architecture, in a malaise-inducing spectrum of brown to gray to sooty beige. We’re in the prairies, which means a subtly varied landscape (squint or you’ll miss it), prone to fire and dust.
Last summer, drought turned the wide, flat fields to tinder. In fall, the tinder caught a spark or several. Wildfires blackened the subdivisions’ borders and left the air clogged with ash. In winter, brutal chinook winds and cold temperatures stripped the last of the plant life leaving behind bare dirt and stubby grass.
There is one part of town, though, that’s undeniably gorgeous: the dog run. The dog run lies a block from my house. It is a long, circuit trail within the wild prairie of the coulees, a rolling river valley that resembles folded burlap. But pretty. Really, really pretty.
Today is the end of the Canada Day holiday weekend. Never one for holidays in general, and too new to Canada to remember what celebratory event is happening when, I keep ending up at abandoned intersections and on empty downtown streets, wondering where the town residents have gone. This morning, it was drizzly–it’s been wetter this summer–and the dog park was deserted. Pickle (a Pisces), delighted at having the place to herself, bounded neck-deep into the long, wet grass.
Pickle can be iffy around other dogs. She’s always curious about what they are up to and will charge ahead to greet them. She likes checking out a new butt and having a 30-second romp, but prefers her dog love to be the unrequited variety. If too much of her interest is returned, she comes to cling by my side, turning back only to bark out her displeasure.
In the empty dog run, though, Pickle could enjoy the best of both worlds: all the dog smells with none of the overwhelming socializing. Taking her sweet time to sniff the pee-soaked wildflowers, Pickle dawdled behind, until she was just a black and white speck on the horizon. Noticing my absence, she raced to catch up. With ears pinned back and a dopey, dog grin, she wagged her tail and then immediately ducked away into the grass to be alone again. In the deserted dog run, Pickle was content among the bobbing purple flowers and waving grasses to think her solitary doggy thoughts and feel her solo doggy feels, and make private discoveries that, even if she became possessed of human speech, I am confident she’d have feel no inclination to explain.
One thing I’ve learned from my astrology clients is that few Cancerians consider themselves mommy types. Cancer suns often don’t see themselves as wildly emotional (Cancer moons and rising sign people seem to experience more frequent ups and downs) and object to the idea that they expect others to meet their needs.
I blame pop culture, who else. (Darn you, internet!) Pop culture likes simple explanations, and what could be simpler than dubbing Cancers either mommies or man babies? But people are complex animals (unlike my beloved dope, Pickle, who at this moment is exerting 150% of her brain power to remember where she left the ball she was chewing on a few minutes ago), and the Cancer stereotype just doesn’t jibe with the Cancer experience.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of Cancer as keepers of an inner garden; after watching Pickle amuse herself today, I think I should update that to keeper of a quiet, inner dog run. What grows in that dog run are emotions that change with the weather and shift in the breeze.
Cancer is needs- and nurturing-oriented. But those needs belong to the inner child and the nurturing, most often, is directed within. Emotional wholeness is within reach for Cancerians. Creativity and empathy are natural expressions of this emotional centeredness, as is the acceptance of one’s own messiness.
For the next few weeks, we could all stand to take a page from Pickle. Cancer season is for moseying through those tall grasses, taking time to ferret out all the interesting inner smells. The seeds dispersed by past seasons’ fires and winds have taken root and grown into our inner dog run’s lush landscape. Weeds mingle with flowers; pee is as interesting and worthwhile a scent as the rich, earthy damp of recent rain.
*Note: this post was partly inspired by an interview I did with Refinery29’s Sara Coughlin. She wanted to know whether the “maternal” image of Cancer was correct. Some of what I told her made it into the final piece, but some didn’t. This is a bit of filling in the blanks and fleshing out the picture.
Want to get in touch with your own inner dog run? Book a Depth reading! we’ll talk about all the feelings, and how to parent yourself with more kindness (and, perhaps, better boundaries).