Well, she likes raspberries and blackberry flowers…
I’m confused. I posted a Jack’s Walk yesterday (July 8/20) that has disappeared. I’m sure it was published, and I’m pretty sure that Jazzlet made a comment, but it’s all gone, and I can’t find it anywhere. It was about Bubba getting older, and this photo topped it. Did anyone see it, or was I just dreaming? It shows up in my stats for yesterday, but when I try to open it, all I get is error 404 – not found. It isn’t in drafts or under my published articles, and I don’t have my rough copy any longer. It’s all very strange, and I have no idea how to get it back.
No matter, really. It was just me trying to say hello and explain that Jack and I are having fewer adventures because it’s been bloody hot, and Jack’s activity tolerance is low. What I wanted to say but didn’t is that I’ve been reluctant to write this column because it seems silly when I look at the state of the world. I should be writing about racism, police violence, the rise of fascism, the pandemic or a host of other important issues, but anything I say would only be opinion. There are many talented writers here at Freethought Blogs who understand the issues so much better than me and write brilliantly about them. I feel honoured to be among them but suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome.
When I joined Caine’s team in 2016, my goals were simple – help a friend and share my love of nature and dogs. After Caine died, it also became essential to me to hold together the community she created and to keep her legacy alive. That is still my focus, and I’ve been thinking that perhaps a bit of happy patter might be welcome for a few readers who want a quick respite from the weight of the world. So, silly or not, Jack and I will continue to share our small adventures and hope that they don’t disappear again.
Bubba says hi and wants me to tell you that “it’s the heat, not my age that has me slowed down.” I hope he’s right because he’s my bubbly, bubbly Bubbs.
Well, hello there. It’s been a while since Jack and I were here, and we hope you’ve all been keeping well. I don’t know about the weather where you are, but ours has been hellishly hot and dry. It’s been difficult for Jack to get exercise because he still has a lot of hair to shed, despite daily brushing and he overheats quickly. Mostly, though, he’s just getting old. My Bubba is 12 now, and this summer, for the first time, I see the weight of those years hanging on him. He’s slower, fatigues quickly, and he’s lost his delightful prancing gait.
Despite the physical changes, Jack’s attitude remains cheerful, and he still wants to play and go for adventures. I’ve been worried, though, that he couldn’t make it all the way around any of our trials, so we’ve been taking shorter walks just around the block. This helps meet Jack’s physical needs, but not his emotional ones, so this morning I got up at the crack of dawn, fed Jack, packed a large thermos of water and a smaller one of coffee, grabbed my camera and keys and took the boy out to Trillium Woods. That’s a 1 km looped trail with several benches along the path, and it’s Jack’s favourite walk. The entire route is shaded by giant trees, and I crossed my fingers that Bubba could make it from bench to bench and back to the car, and he did! We went slowly and took water at each bench stop, but Jack really struggled to make it up the hill at the end of the trail. We stopped twice for him to catch his breath, and I was getting concerned that bringing him was a bad idea, but one plodding foot after another, Jack finally made it to the top where he beamed with happiness and contentment. Next time, we’ll walk in the other direction, which puts the hilly section at the beginning of the walk, instead of the end. For now, Jack is blissfully sleeping, and I feel like the luckiest mommy in the world because I get to be his mommy.
Jack is fed up with Covid, and he doesn’t even have to wear a mask. Of course, I don’t wear a mask on trail walks either, but I’m just fine with the social distancing. That’s the part that Jack doesn’t like. He’s so used to people stopping to pet him that his feelings get hurt when they don’t. Today, we encountered an older couple out for a walk, and they stepped off the trail to go around us. We exchanged pleasantries but stayed in our personal bubbles a few metres apart. Jack was making happy noises and giving adorable face, but they weren’t interested in getting any closer to him, and when they walked away, I could see poor Jack trying to work out what went wrong. I explained about germs and transmission of disease, but Jack said he heard on the news that dogs don’t get or carry Covid 19. I told him that it might be too early to know that for sure, especially since I heard that cats can contract it. He mumbled some reply about cats being inferior to dogs and walked away. Poor Bubba is suffering from a lack of human contact, and there isn’t much I can do to make it better. He gets lots of love and attention at home, but what he wants is the adoration of the public sphere. He wants people to Oooh and Aaah and to rub his face while he curls around them. He’s 12, now, and I hope he gets it back in his lifetime.
I apologize for being a bit absent lately. The past few weeks have been… challenging. My scoliosis is getting worse and I’ve developed pain along the bottom ridge of my right ribcage that has been stubbornly refusing to get better. Just before the pandemic, I had a spinal x-ray taken that diagnosed my spine as a collapsing S-curve and what’s happening is that I’ve twisted so that my bottom right ribs are rubbing on the upper edge of my pelvis. Normally, I see my pain specialist every 3 – 4 weeks for injections along both sides of my entire spine, but I haven’t been since early February because of the pandemic, and, well, I waited a bit too long. Finally, late last week, I donned my mask and went to see my Dr. in the big city down the road and today I’m feeling a bit more human.
Jack and I even managed to get out to our wee little forest for a walk, today. We went slowly and watched the fairies flit for a while and then we paid a short visit to Gnorman, who was out plowing with a team of voles. The trio joined us for a cold drink of water before getting back to their work. It was a most pleasant day filled with the cheerful, company of friends, glorious sunshine and the quiet beauty of our native woodlands. It even came with a pretty reminder to stay safe and wash our hands… lots.
Yesterday I posted about our resident deer and fawn. Yesterday afternoon our friends visited us in our garden, and while we were sitting there, we could hear the little one call out for mummy and sure she showed up:
Only that this time the little one wasn’t hidden in our garden, which is open to the woods, but in our neighbour’s which is partly open to ours, but closed to the woods. I’ve written about this problem for our deerest friends before: They run to the back where there’s a fence. Despite all of us leaving the garden so that mummy could come and get her baby, she did not dare to come closer towards our house where the opening to the neighbour’s garden is and the fawn stood at the fence in the back crying its heart out, so Mr and I decided to start a rescue operation.
We went to the neighbour’s backyard (yay for good neighbours and the permission to trespass) and opened the door in the back so the little one could leave.
At first it was still standing, crying its heart out, while we could hear mummy rustle in the ferns behind the fence. As we came closer it did what fawns instinctively do: it lay down and kept very, very still, trusting its camouflage:
Find the fawn. If we hadn’t known it was there we would have walked right past it. As it was we had to go within a metre of the poor thing, probably scaring it half to death, but it was lying right beside the door. Of course we didn’t get any closer than we had to and didn’t touch it, the pics are all taken with my big lens and Mr was very careful not to disturb it.
As soon as we retreated the cutie staggered out of the door and I went back to close it again. Our neighbour is very firm with closing those doors because there’s also wild boars around. I could see it lying in the ferns and I heard mummy a few metres off. Since there was no more crying I suppose they left together soon afterwards.
Some evening last week one of local roe deer grazed in the lower, and so far mostly overgrown part of the garden.
You can see the ugly old fence post in the left corner marking the border between the garden that belongs to our house and the part that we merely rent from the city.
We keep the brambles at bay, so while there’s tons of stinging nettles, there’s also grass and herbs.
What I didn’t know at that time was that she has a sweet little fawn hidden somewhere close. We only found out when on Saturday we heard a sound that was actually more like a bird of prey and thought that maybe there was an injured animal in the backyard. Since then we’ve been seeing them on and off, she tolerates us at up to about 10m, but of course I usually don’t have the camera ready, but today I had. Tell me if that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. I banned everybody from the garden for the next half hour so they could have a bit of peace after I took my pics, but they seem to regard the kids on the trampoline as a non-threat anyway.
We visited the Zoo at the weekend, which in hind(haha)sight was not the best idea. Their concept to prevent infections sounded really good, but the obvious blind spot was that they’re dealing with people. Thankfully it was all open air (and I didn’t need to pee because obviously Corona can’t spread if you’re just using the bathroom), but it#s certainly not something I’ll repeat soon. But I still got some nice pics for you.
Sika deer. You can still see the layer of velvety skin over his antlers. I always think that they look like the prototypical Bambi.
Speaking of Bambi… Lunchtime!
Next one is a blackbuck kid with its mummy. I have no clue why they’re called blackbucks. In German they’re “Hirschziegenantilope”, because whoever named them was apparently a bit confused as that translates as “deer goat antilope”.
It must be pretty young because it was still not very secure on its legs and had this slightly underfed look many babies have shortly after making it to the great outside. But it was very, very cute.
And last but not least: Snugglebeasties, better known as goats.
It’s been a perfect day – warm, but not hot with a deep blue sky full golden sunshine. The growing things have sprung to life in a million shades of green, and there are bright, colourful flowers in almost every garden. It’s been wonderful. Marvellous. Splendiferous. All the good adjectives and none of the bad. It’s the sort of day when you want to be outside, and our neighbourhood came alive this afternoon with activity. The gardeners were out gardening, the old men were out gossiping over fences, and the joyful noise of children playing filtered in from yards in all directions. I’m sure their mothers were grateful. Jack and I were definitely grateful to get outside. For the first time in weeks, it wasn’t a chore, it was a pleasure. I don’t want to jinx it, but the weather is supposed to stay nice for the next few days. If it does, this gal and her dog have some gardening of our own planned. It’s finally time to change from mittens to garden gloves. Hooray!
Oma was still laughing as we made our way slowly back to the car. She seemed content to ride on top of Jack and had no difficulty keeping her balance. She pointed out the dandelions and told us how her grandmother taught her to make a tonic from them.
“It’s good for all sorts of ailments. It helps with bloat and the tummy flutter. You can make a salve of it for nettle stings and pebble joints. My Gran is a Wise Fairy. She knows all sorts of remedies and potions. You can meet her when we get home.”
“That would be nice,” said Jack. ‘Here’s the car, Oma. Now Mummy is going to help us get inside. Have you ever been in a car before?” He asked.
I reached down and put one hand under Jack’s belly and the other in a hug around his bum and counted to three, and then together, we hopped him into the car, with Oma still holding tightly to Jack’s collar.
“Goodness, no,” she cried. Her laughter stopped, and I could see that she was frightened. Jack stepped into the back and lay down on his bed.
“It’s very safe, Oma,” I said. “I’m a careful driver, and we can get you home quickly. It’s not nearly as dangerous as surfing with a seal.”
“That’s right,” said Jack. “You can sit here with me and watch out the window. Maybe, you could tell me again about your home by the sea.”
That brought a smile back to her face, and Oma relaxed a bit.
“Why, it’s the prettiest place you’ll ever see. The beaches are surrounded by tall red cliffs covered with fields of green, and beyond them are the mountains. Some say they’re the oldest mountains in the world. They go on forever, one round bump rolling into another all covered with trees. That’s where we live, by a stream in the mountains. It’s easy to get lost because there are lots of streams, but our place overlooks a gigantic rock with a hole in it that sits in the ocean all by itself. My favourite human friend, Muriel, calls it the Perce Rock but my family calls it The Big Wink. It’s something to see. If it’s a beautiful day and we’re not too busy, Dad will take us down to the beach. I love it there. You can find all sorts of pebbles and stones and sometimes even polished coloured gems that make beautiful decorations. Some of our craftspeople make them into jewellery or suncatchers. I like to collect them to put in the garden among the flowers.” Oma had settled down into Jack’s neck ruff and was watching out the window when she suddenly started to laugh again and said,
“Wow, this is better than flying. What do you call this thing again.”
“It’s a car, Oma. Most humans use them to get around,” said Jack.
“Well, it’s a lot of fun. You look down on things as you pass by them, and it moves so fast! I like to go fast. Sheesh! What a day I’m having. I am on a grand adventure,” she giggled. “I hope Mum won’t be too mad at me. I got my stockings dirty, and I’ve lost my books.” I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that Oma’s eyes had misted up again, so I said to her, ” I know the Perce Rock, or as you call it ‘The Big Wink.’ My husband’s family lives in Perce. I love it there, too. It’s one of my favourite places. I didn’t know that fairies live there, though.”
“Fairies live almost everywhere, and our mountain by The Big Wink is full of little folk of every kind,” she said. “In my neighbourhood, we have Gnomes, Imps, Elves and Fairies. It’s great. Everyone works together, and we share lots of things, but mostly food and stories. I like talking to people over food, especially if there are stories. Mama likes the love stories best, and my sister Edna likes to gossip, but I like tall tales of adventure. The Imps tell great adventure stories that make you silly laugh. ‘Course, the mushrooms they serve can make you silly laugh before the stories even start. Mama says that Edna and I can only eat one or two, and only if she or Papa is with us. Mama makes a lot of rules, but she says it’s because she wants us to grow up to be good fairies.” Oma paused for a moment to scratch her back and said, “Gosh, my wings get itchy when they’re growing in.” She paused for a moment, staring out the window when suddenly a smile lit up her face.
“Hey! Big Brown Dog! Stop! This place looks familiar. We must be getting close to home. Stop, Human, stop!” Oma’s arms were flailing about as she tried to stand up, but couldn’t find her balance. I turned into the parking lot for the Trillium Trail and stopped the car. I turned in my seat and looked into the back of the car and said, “Alright, Oma. We’re here. This is the forest where you live. I want you to hold on tightly to Jack’s collar as he gets up. OK, Jack, let’s go.”
Jack stood up slowly, and he carefully made his way out through the back door. Once on the ground, he softly made his way onto the trail as I closed up the car and locked it. Jack had only taken a few steps when he was set upon by a large mixed group of faires, Gnomes and Imps, each of them calling Oma’s name and reaching out to her. Jack slowly laid down near a patch of trout lilies, and Oma slid off of him with her arms held out wide, calling out loudly ‘Wheeee!’ A blue fairy fluttered toward Jack and caught Oma as she hit the ground. She pulled Oma close and hugged her tightly, and Oma started to cry. Still holding on to each other, Oma said, “I forget your name, but I remember your smell. Do you know where my Mama is?” Oma pulled back with tears in her eyes and continued, ” She’s going to be upset with me. I’ve lost my books, and I’ve gotten dirty, and I’m really late. Oh, Dear. I don’t know what to do.” She began to cry.
I watched as a pale green fairy wended her way through the crowd. She was older, with dull grey hair and heavy lines around her face. As she got nearer to Jack, Oma saw her and cried out with a laugh, “Edna! I am so glad to see you. I was afraid I’d never get home.”
Edna took Oma’s hands and said, “I’m glad to see you, too. You must be hungry and tired. Let’s get you home.” She looked into Jack’s eyes and said, “Thank you,” then led Oma away by the hand into the forest. There was an outburst of ‘Thank yous’ from the rest of the crowd as they slowly followed behind the two older fairies, waving goodbye one moment and then slowly vanishing into the forest. As we watched them go, I saw Gnorman turn around and come toward Jack and me, so I knelt down on one knee and smiled at him as he approached. Without hesitation, he hopped onto my lap and took my hand in his and bestowed a kiss upon it. Then looked up at me and said,
“Thank you, Lassie. And you, Sir Jack. I see that you have injuries to your nose and your toes. I wish you speedy healing. We will never forget what you have done today. You will always be welcome among all the little folk, and we will write tales and songs about your bravery. Same for you, Voyager,” he said as he hopped off my knee.
“Thank you, Gnorman. It is my pleasure to have been of service. One question, though. How did you know so quickly that we were here with Oma?”
“Hera Hawk followed you and flew back to let us know you’d found her and were on your way home,” Gnorman said, smiling. He turned toward the forest, and said over his shoulder, “When next we meet, I’ll be wanting to hear the story from you. Right now, I have a party to get to.” He brought up his hand to blow me a kiss, calling out ‘Thanks, again, to the two of you,” before disappearing into the trees. I put my hand on Jack’s back and told him, “You are very brave, Jack. And kind. I am the luckiest Mummy in the world because I get to be your Mummy.”
Jack smiled as he stood up and said, “Thanks, Mummy. Could we get ice cream on the way home?”
“You bet, Bubba. Today you’re the king of the forest. I think you’ll need a queen. Let’s make it a Dairy Queen.”
“Yay,” he said, happily wagging his tail as he trotted ahead of me.
I’d like to thank rq for the beautiful artwork. It’s a lovely piece, and it means a great deal to me.
My thanks also to all of you for allowing me to try my hand at story writing. It was a bit of fun.