Why, on last week’s Saturday walk the dog sprinted to the horizon in a cloud of dust, yet on yesterday’s (and today’s) was biddable. Who knows why, when I unleashed him on the masses of London horizon that is Hackney Marshes, he skirted round the edges near the trees. Who knows why we moved from London in the first place. I do know that, at least: for more space, for the children.
Who knows why I have changed so much in the intervening period – different dog, a cat, two children that are barely recognisable from the babies that they were.
Who knows why I take photos like this, on walks.
Who knows why I like reflections of clouds and church towers, lichen, peeling paint and split wood. Why I like tired curtains in a 1950s flimsy and faded crème de menthe.
Who knows why, cracked glass and terrible yellows. Painted walls under blue skies supervising industrial distress.
Who knows why windows from the outside, when I can never see in.
Who knows why; any of it?
My maternal grandfather was a fly fisherman. It has to be said that, despite being accomplished at many things (pianist, violinist, mathematician, gardener, Times crossworder and hill walker) he did not catch many trout. Not when I was with him anyway.
He was always exercising our brains, even as he exercised our legs on a walk. We were told that to make a fly, another thing he was excellent at, he really, really needed a blue jay feather. I used to walk with my eyes on the ground for years, peeled for a glint of the rare feather for my grandfather. I found one, once. And he took it and made a fly as I recall, but he had a whole box of them so it would be hard to say which featured my feather. I wonder what happened to the box of flies. They were quite something, even if you don’t fish.
It was funny then, after all those years staring at my feet to just find one, that we turned up a handful of them all in one go last autumn. I weighted them down with a river cobble so I could take the shot. The children are too old for feather headdresses now and I left the feathers down by the river not being a fly fisher myself. I wish I had brought one home now.
Why old people get up really early in the morning and have the fridge cleaned out, their shoes polished and all the *shopping done by Thought for the Day; it’s because the nearer you are to death the more of life you have to fit in.
I would like to include a profanity here but, as the blog doesn’t swear, I won’t.
*robbing banks if you are the septuagenarian crim in San Diego dubbed “The Geezer Bandit”
It used to be that a walk in the woods was out of the question with Rudi. Unlike my late dog, Senna, who was a faithful shepherd to me as his breeding dictated, Rudi is a ne’er do well fly-by-night likely to take off at the speed of light after any moving thing or shadow within a 5 mile radius. He is gimlet-eyed hunter who lives for the thrill of the chase. No wonder I didn’t fancy losing him in the woods. Sometimes I did fancy losing him in the woods actually, but I’m over that now.
We have known each other nearly two years now, and without wishing to tempt fate I would cautiously suggest we have formed, what is termed in the business, a “bond”. The exact nature of this bond is still up for grabs, we haven’t signed any treaty or conducted a referendum to quantify what one means to the other and neither are we likely to.
I decided to test my bond theory this weekend as a local wood practically threw itself at us for a walk. Having quizzed a lady with two elderly whippets in the car park as to the wisdom of letting these flighty types off the lead in the woods I decided I would be brave and give it a go. Shockingly, he did not disappear. Well he did disappear, but not altogether, leaping into view briefly before hopping off like a kangaroo back into the trees. I sounded like a contestant on “One Man and His Dog” on speed what with the incessant whistling, slightly less intrusive in the natural setting (I think) than roaring and bellowing his Russian ballet dancing name, but the whistling worked. Ok, it wasn’t total recall, but it worked as a reminder that he didn’t drive himself there for a walk on his own.
I am not going to be complacent. I didn’t see any of the hard drugs known to users as “squirrels” yesterday, so we didn’t get the chance to test our bond and the whistling when he was on a raging high, but it was an encouraging start to the autumnal walks campaign.