A MEETING OF STRANGERS…..or, the 2020 effect!!!
Late yesterday, just before dusk after a very hot day, I took my dog into the Forest. There’s a good swimming hole which has been created by 4WD’s bush bashing, now full of clean water after last week’s rain.
Eerin’s not a swimmer….she likes to wade up to her armpits, wading and lapping at the same time. Then she climbs out onto the muddy bank, throws herself onto her back and rolls ecstatically among the reeds….partly drying off, and collecting some mud to go.
We then return to the Velodrome, which also serves as our local dog park.
Even if everyone else has gone home, there is an abundance of smells that need marking (pissed on), nose to the ground she inspects the oval of grass while I walk around the outside, on the flat concrete pathway.
Cyclists sometimes arrive and go whirring past on the high sloping walls….we don’t bother them, nor they us.
Yesterday was different. As we left the water hole, I saw a man coming directly towards us, his dog, a Border Collie known to both Eerin and me, running ahead to greet her. We waved, then they headed one way, we, the other….only to find he had done a circuit outside the Velodrome and was heading straight towards me. So, we said hello. I mentioned I often met his wife and their dog while walking in the forest. He observed that my dog had a beautiful gait, which I have often written about
…..she has the movement of a wolf….an easy lope which I love to watch as she moves ahead of me. When he asked about her breed and I said Koolie, he had never heard the name. “They’re one of the oldest breeds in the Country, I said, and told him a little of their history…..then made a casual comment saying how great it was not having to wear masks outside anymore.
“I never have, he scoffed at me….”only when I have to inside supermarkets…..Covid is a farce, it doesn’t exist….it’s all a Government scam.”
FIRSTLY, I am always underwhelmed by people who attempt to lecture, or patronise me. A moment of consideration, and I told him I absolutely disagreed with him, that the evidence was overwhelmingly convincing, apparent (for anyone with an actively working brain), inside my head.
“So, I won’t argue with you….dogs are a much easier subject. Her ancestry originated from our earliest Scottish settlers, sheep farmers who brought their Blue Merle Collies with them, and the German Lutheran farmers with their work dogs, called Tigers (Teegers).
Back on safe ground, with me realising I had accepted his offered hand shake (we are all still practicing social distancing), I had been caught off guard by this dying, but very appreciated form of connection…a strong handshake (no limp fish or sweaty palms), so I was both gratified and thinking about the hand sanitizer in my nearby car.
But I had mentioned Scotland, and as he again referred to the Covid scam, I looked straight at him, this total stranger and said “Scottish….stubborn as rocks.” I liked him. He was tough looking, but openly friendly….he draped his hands over the Velodrome fence, and discussed family Ancestry, joking about a dreary family gathering where not much concerning bloodlines was discussed….”just a lot of old buggers whinging” he grinned at me.
We continued talking…a strange, unexpected intimacy. He mentioned a book he’d read just last year, on past lives, written by a highly respected Psychiatrist…..I finished his sentence, mentioning the Authors name, telling him I had just ordered it from our local Library. The ease of conversation was uncanny as we discovered more and more coincidence, synchronicity, and a sense we both shared of being strongly affected by our “living dead.” A sense of them wanting to connect….me, “wanting to complete what they were unable to finish.”
And then we parted ways….he walking along the outside path, Eerin sniffing grass and me walking the inside pathway.
Before veering off into the Forest, he once more leaned over the railing above me, and commented on my dog’s beautiful movement….”Yes” I said, I’ve written about it, “the hour between dog and wolf, this time of day when the veil is thin, when you are aware that your domesticated canine is no longer there.”
He looked at me and said. “I apologise for my earlier arrogance,” and then left.
Spring, Central Victoria, 2020