Thursday, 16 July 2009

The dog down the road

There is a dog down the road who irritates me and Boolie mostly because he is an 'attack' from behind type of dog which means that he sneaks up to us from the rear. Oh he does a 'look at me I am a big dog' stance if he meets us from the front, but mostly he prefers to clear off so we think he has gone and then comes up from the rear.

Me and Bools think this is cowardly. If you have a grump about somebody, face them head on. That's what me and Bools think.

We walk down the lane, past Christiane's jumbly gardening house, onto the s-bend in the lane, and there dog down the road lives. Most times he is still indoors when we pass, especially of late. There are new occupants to this particular house, arriving last winter. Well it isn't a house really, not in terms of the UK interpretation of 'house'. Rather, it is a huge barn of a place, with a huge barn attached. All fally-down and rustically rural. So not posh or anything.

But I think they do parties, because a huge circular bright blue blow up swimming pool has just appeared, and they don't. What I mean is that there is no-one about when we pass now, including dog down the road.

Just a word about these pools. They are cheap in price, and very big and very tall. You clamber up a ladder then drop down into them. And look horrible! But even I have had a fleeting secondary thought about purchasing one when we are cooking furiously in the afternoon sun. But it is a thought which flickers in and out. We have the river. Last summer me and Bools spent many a happy afternoon wading up and down in it, cooling off. Not done that this year, as we tend to spend the afternoons in the coolness of the pig/chick hut, which we didn't have last year. Or I am having a siesta.

Anyway, we were walking down the lane this morning. All was peaceful. Down past Sara's place with her camels out in the field already today, doing a left turn, over a canal which I often stop and linger at. There is a house whose back walls are one wall of the little canal. It looks vaguely Venice. I enjoy this house, with its drapings of wisteria, and its sleepy, timeless, dustiness. As with many others in the area, it has elderly people in. Eventually it will be sold, and probably done up. That is the life of a house. People in, people out. Always passing traffic. I would like the house to stay as it is. But nothing does. So I enjoy it for now.

Onto another bridge, this time over the Louet river. Sara has the keys to the sluice gate here. I lean on the railings for a moment, but not for long.

On past the fields where the cows graze, and the maize fields start. To the right the Pyrenees. I can sometimes see the Pyrenees. If I don't, then the weather will be sunny and dry. If I do, then rain will be on its way during the next few days. I don't see them today.

At half right is the village of Mazeres with its odd towered church. A lot of the churches seem to be built by individual people. There doesn't seem to be overall comformity to the village churches. For some reason the church always makes me feel, again, timeless. It is at this point that any tensions I have drizzle away. It is not the most adventurous of walks, and there are prettier ones to be had in the area, but it is my morning walk with Bools and always works a magic on me.

Now down to the track between the maize fields. The overhead sprinklers are on. The farmers are watering the maize. So far they haven't been watering where I have been walking.

Ah, today they are! To my left is the escarpment of trees on which the village of Castelnau Rivière Basse stands. There is the wall of a ruined castle perched on the edge. Nothing grand or special, just a wall which now belongs to a house. But it is charming. Not done up, modernised, or tarted up for the tourists. Nothing is done for the tourists. No big signs to say 'come and pay your dollar here to see our attractions'. Nothing. Perhaps that's why people like to come here. Because it is easy and simple.

Will I do a jog this morning? I think thirty walks, thirty slow shuffle-type jogs, thirty walks are the order of the day. It is already getting warm, so best to pace myself.

We approach the watering system. These are long, tall, elegant scaffolds of steel which spray water over the maize. "Looks like we are going to get wet" I say to Bools. Wait a minute - there seems to be a moment when one could dart through. We wait. Yes! We're through! And only a bit of splash down our backs.

Onwards along the track. Nothing much to be seen now the maize is growing. Head high, it is a wall of green. By now I am doing my walking jogging pattern of movement, and my head has become calm. Perhaps it is a good thing that there is no actual view because there is nothing to distract me.

We make a left turn to come over Louet again, but this time over planks. This is a farmers bridge so has no sides, but if it is solid enough to take a tractor it is solid enough to carry my weight. Bools will often take a moment to go and have a drink, and sometimes I go down the bank with him and sit and linger. Not today. Time is pressing on.

I stand on the wide row of planks. I used to hurry across at one time because it feels like one could easily fall in. Without sides, a topple could have one in the water in no time. Today I don't. I
stand in the middle of the planks facing the downward flow of water. And imagine all my worries and concerns flowing away down the river. And I face the other way, and imagine peace and calm flooding into me. This is the first time I have done this. I think it will be something I often repeat.

Over the next little planky bridge which is the canal again, and onto the lane. And there he is. The dog down the lane. All puffed up and trying to look aggressive. Bools stops. I stop. Bools puffs himself, and starts slowly tiptoeing forward. Normally I would carry on walking as normal. Today I don't. I stay at Boolie's shoulder. We are, after all, a team. I move slowly forward as well, backing Boolie up. I raise my shoulders to puff myself up. A team.

Bools feels my comradeship and does a full on charge. Powerfully he plunges at the dog down the lane, which spins round and scarpers off, flanks now at ground level, puffiness all gone. Bools deigns not to chase too far. He has protected our corner of the world. He looks round. "Thanks, " he says. "You're welcome" I say.

On we go. Now approaching the house with the pool and the home of the dog down the lane. This is when the dog down the lane will make a rear guard action.

We approach the house. Bools is puffed up again, walking slowly. I am walking slowly at his shoulder. Today is show-down time. The dog down the lane appears, coming out of the gates to the house. And raises his lips in a menacing snarl. Boolie does a low throaty growl. I do the same. Yes I do! I do a growl as well! The dog down the lane looks at me. Looks at Bools. He sees the team effort. But we don't attack. Even though it is two against one, we don't attack. The dog down the lane does when he is making mischief with Sara's dog. The two of them came visiting a while ago, and did much bully boy behaviour against Bools. Two against one again. Lester had to go and shout them away.

Today, though, we are saying to the dog down the lane, "Do not torment us with your rear guard attacks again, because there are two of us here." This is the message we gave to the dog down the lane who wiltered away. I did a bark. Just to send him off. Bools didn't. He was above such behaviour.
"Bonjour" a voice called from behind me. Oh, the man who lives in the white bungalow which is opposite to the dog down the lane's house. He is leaning on his gate, watching. Oops.

Not to worry though, he knows that we live in the roofless house at the top of the lane and that my tomatoes haven't been staked up yet out in the front garden because the ensuing conversation told me so. I think he is 86 years old, has two sons who live with him and has a wife who is living somewhere else because she needs too much looking after. I think that is what he says, but he is speaking French but lisping heavily because he has no front teeth but instead has a wide gap through which his tongue seems to often escape. Anyway, another neighbour met and spoken to.

We carry on walking. Christiane stops in her car. She is on her way to the post office, and we have a girly laugh about getting wet under the sprinklers out in the maize fields. I think this is what I said to her. Not to worry though, because whatever I said caused her to almost collapse with laughter.

Round the corner, and there is Labartere. Ah, who is that. Bruno! Giving me a wave as he comes out of the drive on his bicycle. He is cycling round a lot now. His son just passed his test, and the day after he did so he borrowed Bruno's van, took a phone call en route and put himself and the van into a ditch, writing the vehicle off. He's OK though. But Bruno has to cycle if Maddi has their remaining car. Anyway, with shirt open and flapping like wings, off he goes presumably after having had a cup of tea with Lester.

Home. And no rear guard attack from the dog down the lane. I feel blessed by my walk. I am not sure how you will be feeling, after all you have been travelling for some distance down the page as you read my words. But thank you for coming with me and sharing the moments of my walk.


DUTA said...

It reminds me of a dog incident that happened to me a few months ago. Not far from my home there's an alley, and a retired gym teacher who's training there her big dog in some ball games . Once, when I passed through this alley, the dog (probably mistook me for a ball LOL) knocked me down. I was lucky I didn't fall on my head and got away only with a few scratches on the knee.

Vera said...

Hi Duta, at least I didn't fall over this time, although the other dog who runs with the dog down the lane nipped me the other day. Blessings to both these animals! I am sure in another life they will be splendid beings.