Monday, July 18, 2011
Flowers and smelly dogs
The world is green and blue. Foliage encroaches on the trail. Buttercups on spindly geometric stems spill on to the path with daisies and softer, five-petaled white flowers I haven’t identified. Ahead, beneath the clear sky of vibrant blue, Murdoch and his Rottweiler friend weave in and out of the tall grasses that march down the center of the trail. I mosey behind, keeping an eye on their wagging tails.
Beyond the shade of forest patches still standing amongst the re-growth of a clear-cut the wild plants grow faster and bigger, everything is more abundant and the flowers tumble right across the trail. I stop to watch two electric blue bugs, like mini dragonflies, each thinner than a toothpick, hovering amongst the buttercups. Mesmerized, I lean closer but they are so delicate I can’t hear the sound they make or see their wings until they land on a blade of grass. For a moment it was like some magical crossover from another world to this one and when I look up, the dogs are gone.
I know where they are headed, so I continue along the trail, walking faster, calling and listening.
I reach the spot where the ground curves up away from the trail, becomes a berm that is almost at eye level but obscured by the abundant undergrowth. On the other side of the berm is a great, wide pond. I hear splashing and call again. The splashing seems to be getting farther away.
I hesitate for a moment, think of ticks, before plunging in to the waist-high foliage. I climb the steep, but short embankment and emerge atop the lip of the half-bowl that encloses the pond. On the other side I see two small black shapes trudging out from the weedy water.
“Come on you guys!” I yell, hoping to get their attention before something else does. They almost vanish behind a green veil of waving grasses; I can just make out vague dark shapes when their heads appear and look my way, a pair of pink tongues hanging askew. “Let’s go!” I yell.
They skirt part of the pond, which has become a large obsidian disc reflecting tops of trees upside down on its surface. Murdoch wades in up to his shoulders sending gentle black ripples across to where I stand. He looks as though he is preparing to swim across and for a moment I am happy he is listening to me and then I remember he is not a strong swimmer and I think he might panic halfway across.
Also, it is a beaver pond. The great mound of a den rises up from the center of the pond all beached and broken sticks and chalky-beige dried mud. It has been there so long grasses grow over it; it is a balding head emerging from the water. I am worried about the dogs getting attacked by a beaver and am relieved when they turn around and disappear back into the grass.
I call again hoping I do not have to trudge through the harsh weeds that grow on top of the berm and sludge through the muck I know edges the pond. For a moment it is quiet and then their black shapes are crashing towards me, bouncing along the lip of land. I laugh as they tumble to a stop in front of me, tramping down the weeds as though they are no more than air. They smile and shake and I am covered in specks of muddy water, awash in hot breath and pungent smells of marsh.