Blot On The Landscape

If I were a dog, I’d be a terrier. I’d be a terrier because I need to be run every day, or at least go for a really good walk. The blind truth is that I’m more of a dachshund; short of leg and moderate in my pace. Nevertheless, walking is like breathing. It’s a necessary part of my routine.

In the time of Corona Virus how do you get out for a walk when all the other dogs in the neighbourhood are out doing just the same as you, and social distancing means that, unlike normal doggy behaviour, they are not keen on getting within sniffing distance? Answer: with a good friend who is prepared to take their chances with an off lead walk, certain in the knowledge that you will come back when called.

My friend P enjoys a good walk as much as me and is prepared to brave it. While a trip in a car, even in the doggy boot, would be a treat, that’s a step too far when social distancing guidance prevails. So, we met outside my house and headed off.

Walking with P is a joy. She notices everything that has the slightest whiff about it. “Stick your nose in that,” she said. We stop to smell the roses, literally and metaphorically. The smallest of objects are scrutinised and reported on. “Now that is interesting. I think it’s a frogs’ leg.” I took her word for it and wondered what’s it doing here?

“I’m just popping in here for a look,” She said as she disappeared into the shrubbery for a closer inspection of the undergrowth. She has only gone to inspect the facilities, not to use them, before reporting back.

We ambled and chatted, tottering our way through the dark of an underpass, where we bounced our voices off the concrete surfaces before coming back out into the sunlight. Then we turned on our heels, whooped our way back through the concrete sound box before coming back to the river path.

“There’s a man coming towards us.” I get out of the way. The man turns his back and holds his breath.

“Oh look. It’s a heron.” P is pointing as she offers up a short commentary on the comings, and largely, the goings of the heron.

I am suddenly struck by how open the space around us is, and how green. “Look at that. Isn’t it wonderful.” I say.

“It’s pretty good.” She pauses and asks “What exactly am I looking at?”

“It’s so green,” I say.

She is drinking it all in and then she asks, “Can you see that building over there?”

“No.” I am surprised. I didn’t know about that.

“It’s got a red roof.”

“Nope,” I confirm.

“Or that modern thing over there?”

“It just looks like open countryside to me.”

P considers this for a moment. “Well your view is definitely better than my view,” she says.

As we make our way back, not forgetting to stuff our noses into the roses with the fragrance we can’t resist, I begin to think she might be right. I doubt that noticing the bits of dismembered frog outside the kebab shop would have done anything to add to my general enjoyment of life. I am safe in the knowledge that no red roof will interrupt my uninterrupted views. 

As for socially distanced exercise, I do my best. If I can’t see any terriers or elderly dachshunds about, I don’t worry about the sound of barking or the odd growl, the occasional baring of teeth, or the odd “are you blind?”.  It won’t add anything to my general enjoyment of life.

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