Walking

17th August, 2010

It would have been perfect – about 4 weeks ago, when the blue flowers (which I should be able to name and once, a long time ago, probably could) wouldn’t be in their last throes or in spring when the broom (which I’ve never seen quite so much of – or, at least, not that I remember) was in full flower, filling the air with that sickly, sweet scent. It’s not autumn but there is a lot of brown, – patches in the grass, the undergrowth, some leaves on the trees…….

That’s the thing about here, this country. the leaves on the trees in the UK go brown or orange or red or yellow because it’s their ‘time'; here, it’s because they have burnt or have run out of water or something. The oaks already showing it; about half their leaves are that dry, crispy brown, as if they had already fallen from the tree some time ago. It’s all the same, yet different. Blackberries are there, some red, some half and half, some black but nothing like the cultivated ones in the supermarket either here or the ones in the hedgerows in the UK, here not overburdened with individual berries, full to bursting with that dark, red juice but hosting only one, two, three or four berries, small and wasted and not really worth the effort of picking.

The sun is already hot and it’s not even 9! I am already hugging any shade that the trees, harbouring those already dead leaves, can provide.

Dino is ahead. He sniffs the ground and finds the perfect one, Unfortunately he cannot just ‘pick it up’ or, not always. Sometimes, if it proves impossible to pick up, he waits fr me but he always tries first – spreading his forelegs like a giraffe going for a drink, laying his head on one side on the ground to grasp it and so, pick it up and, if successful, proudly carrying it on, jaws agape, tongue lolling out, panting – as I said the sun is already hot.

As I’m writing this, after, today, the French arrived. I mean to say, they’ve been here since Saturday but they seemed aloof, as one would expect of the French. I don’t think we ever saw the whole family together before. Yet we knew they were four. The parents maybe late 30s/early 40s. One child of 10 and one of 6, maybe, my guess at ages always crap. They came to look at the pool, rarely spoke to anyone, although F said they had said ‘hello’ to him one time.

But today they have arrived. Loud. Taking over the pool. Jumping in; causing waves and talking loudly; the older child screaming with joy at being hurled in the air by her father, to fall into the water and sink like a stone.

But I digress.

Sometimes as we walk on, Dino, sniffing the ground before him as he runs ( well, I say ‘runs’ although it is more of an ungainly canter – he doesn’t seem to have the refinement of carriage that Rufus has) finds (sniffs out) another one and will promptly drop the one he has to do his giraffe-drinking impression again to pick up the new one or wait, staring at me as if daring me to pick it up when I get to him but then wanting me to pick it up and throw it further along so that he can chase it.

Rufus, as I have found out this holiday, is, now, almost completely deaf. Now, for the most part, he watches Dino to see how he should react or where he should go or what he should do.

I could hear a car coming up the gravel and stone track, gullies at the side of the track to catch the water when it rains. We had rain the first afternoon/night. I realised then, it’s not like the UK rain, here. We had waited in the car, parked almost outside the supermarket entrance because the rain, not like a shower from the heavens but rather like a bucket from God, trapped us inside the car and the shoppers who’d finished, inside the supermarket, all of us realising that only a single second in this tornado-style rain would drench us in exactly the same way as if we stayed in it for an hour!

We drove back, up the same gravel track that I am now walking down, the gullies having real meaning now but, still, unable to hold the amount of water being deposited and the water exploding over the top and washing the gravel down, exposing the stone and earth below, with the earth, too, getting mixed in.

But now the gullies were dry, or almost dry, seemingly of no value except to trap the unwary or less careful driver or, as Dino, an exuberant dog who went that little too close to the edge.

I could hear the car, I thought. Rufus used to be so good. At the sound of a car, he trotted back. Now, I called but realised that, if he hadn’t heard the car then he wouldn’t hear me! Dino, not so used to all this, just stood, looking at me, questioning without any understanding, this normal pose when called for, as if asking ‘Are you serious?’ or ‘And, if I don’t come?’ – the imitation of taking your shoe off to throw at him the only way he will be made to slink over, grudgingly, in his own time.

The car came. Only when it was on top of Rufus did he know it was there and only then did he do the customary trot back to me, which was good and only marred by the fact that the car and he were now coming to me in parallel. I am amazed that Rufus hangs on so, me expecting him to have given up the ghost a year back. It will, after all, be our last ‘tie’.

We go down as far as the ‘factory’. I didn’t notice it all the times we have driven up and down and cannot tell if it is a factory or a storage place or an assembler of something or what it is.

It’s a couple of large, green, hanger-like sheds, some concrete blocks, some vehicles and, what looks like, a base for a new hanger, in concrete. Maybe it’s something to do with olives or something, I muse, afterwards.

We turn back, me realising that it is quite a long hill to climb now with the sun hotter than before.

I make for each bit of shade, the hot, in-the-sun bits to be endured until the next shadow. Rufus, more often on the way back, by my side as he is obviously struggling a bit now.

We stop at a point where the stream (that I have heard gurgling and gabbling all the way) meets the road. The dogs find it – I didn’t even notice it.

We make our way back up, Dino occasionally dropping his stone for me to throw or because he had found a new one.

I love the peace of this. I love the aimlessness of this. Walking the dogs through undiscovered (to me and them) countryside has to be one of the best things in life!

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