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Our modern world is woefully out of touch with natural rhythms, baseball in November and basketball late into June being only two of many notable examples.

I find the mismatch most personally inconvenient as we head toward the winter solstice, especially when daylight-saving time is still with us and the days begin to shorten noticeably.

Those Worthless Dogs must be walked, and yet your humble correspondent must get to work on time, which means the Puppy Posse gets their morning perambulation in the dark.

Now, the canines in question don’t mind at all. The light cast by the two streetlights on the corner where Chez Davis sits is plenty for them. We have no0t yet bred the wild-honed senses out of them, though they put them to quite different purposes than their lupine ancestors, hearing a can of Alpo open at several hundred yards rather than a timid caribou traipsing through the woods, and scenting a discarded french fry a half-mile away rather than a hungry cave bear.

But still, their night vision is so superior to their primate masters that they trot merrily along, inconvenienced little if at all by the gloom, while I squint and stumble and swear in their wake.

It is truly humbling to be bested by animals whose greatest ambition of a morning is to be the first to sniff the most aromatic droppings left overnight by some passing beastie.

Cooper, the chicken-murdering border collie, and Rhys, the survivor of the mean streets of Roanoke, Va., actually provide some help in getting around in the dark.

Cooper has a spot of white on the end of his tail, which stands out at a surprising distance, providing some guidance about which path to choose, since the dogs are lazy and tend to walk in the direction of the corn rows instead of the more arduous cross-stubble routes.

Rhys, in the manner of all corgis, has a bright white butt, which performs much the same purpose, albeit somewhat closer to the ground.

Zeke’s dark copper coloring, though, blends in frighteningly well with the dark earth in the predawn hours, and I get startled a couple of times a week by his stealthy approach and the sudden gleam of a dog grin from the inky darkness.

There are some consolations to navigating so early, though. The local wildlife are up and about, scampering toward home and laughing at the dogs’ useless attempts at chasing them. I regularly see an owl gliding silently away, and of course deer are ubiquitous, insolently munching stray corncobs until the dogs are quite close, then bounding off in their graceful way.

The occasional eye-gleam from the field edge could be anything, though skunk is always a good guess, since they don’t get out of the way of very much. I have seen a white stripe flashing far off a few times, a signal to call the Useless Ones hastily and set off in another direction. They smell bad enough as it is.

The thing I most resent about the morning dark, though, is that I have to pay attention to where I’m walking rather carefully instead of my normal, pre-coffee wooly dream state, a relaxing interlude between waking and work.

Oh well, I probably should be more alert in general anyway, the better to use excellent services to exercise the mind like the one mentioned in the item below.

Library service puts additional content in catalog

The Southern Maryland Regional Library bought a new service to provide additional content to COSMOS, the online library catalog used by public libraries in Southern Maryland.

COSMOS contains the records for all library materials, and it now provides direct links to reader ratings and reviews, lists books in a series and recommends related books, suggests new titles, authors and series, and lists awards and related articles.

Additional information also provides access to free e-newsletters called “NextReads,” which contain book recommendations in more than 20 topics, such as mystery, romance, biographies, travel etc.

“Library material discovery services have come a long way,” David Paul, regional library information services manager, said in a news release. “By supplying our partner libraries with this service, called NoveList Content, we are able to help library users throughout Southern Maryland find new materials in the system just by clicking a link.”

According to Paul, the step-by-step process for searching for items in COSMOS remains the same. The additional information appears under individual search results in a pull-down option called “NoveList Content.”

To access the information in NoveList Content go to or look for the COSMOS link on the Charles County library’s website at Call 301-934-9001.

Expert on Lincoln assassin to speak

Michael W. Kauffman will give a lecture, “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies” which will discuss the layers of myth, folklore and disinformation surrounding the assassination in 1865 of President Abraham Lincoln, at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at Sotterley Plantation at 44300 Sotterley Lane in Hollywood.

Kauffman’s book on the subject was the basis of “The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth,” a two-hour documentary on the History Channel.

Kauffman, the guide for Booth escape route bus tours, is also a frequent contributor to television and radio documentaries. When the Baltimore Circuit Court heard a lawsuit to force the exhumation of Booth’s remains, he was called as an expert witness. And when the remains of another conspirator were discovered in 1993, it was Kauffman who helped the FBI laboratory identify them. In a more recent book, “Footsteps of an Assassin,” Kauffman takes readers over the 100-mile route of Booth’s escape from Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., to the Garrett Farm in Virginia.

The event is free, but advance reservations are required due to limited seating. Call 301-373-2280 during regular business hours to make a reservation.

New library reception planned

The Charles County Arts Alliance is partnering with Charles County Public Library to present an exhibit of local artists for the opening of the new Waldorf West Library at 10405 O’Donnell Place in Waldorf.

The opening reception will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 18, and the exhibit will be held from October through December.

Call 301-392-5900.