* warning * this post contains poor attempt at sketching!
As Autumn invariably draws closer to an end and days become shorter, our friend Jim Lumpford has been continuing to make the most of each and every daylight hour. Age insidiously creeps up behind him in shadow. He suddenly takes a furtive glance over his shoulder, and realises Old Father Time is but a few paces back so notches up a gear, leaving his pursuer trailing.
We are out together. Jim trundling along in his own inimitable style. Not sleek. Not slender. More shuffling, with a slight hint of skin roll as one paw passes another. But then…..gadzooks! A surprise burst of speed when the scent of water taints the air.
Until this point our time out has been leisurely, uneventful if you will. We have enjoyed quiet calm, inhaled fresh misty air as our descent leads us towards a favourite haunt. Of course Jim Lumpford, that spirited alter ego, does not view himself as canine. He is Shackleton’s explorer and Indiana Jones’s adventurer all rolled into one. A wild swimming expert and of course tough guy Private Detective.
So I sense the need to pick up my own pace, as I view Jim’s rear disappearing round a familiar cluster of trees, which I know leads into Brown Lagoon’s clearing. However, it is not Brown Lagoon I dread him entering. In fact, despite it’s colour, here lies a decievingly fresh water pool which serves as the perfect place to end a walk, where Jim can wash off the muddy evidence of his woodland tramp. No, it is the innocent looking stream that snakes through to the other side which gives me that sinking feeling. Literally! Here there is a reminder of the industrial past which surrounds this place, as the stream is then channeled down a man-made chute, taking the water towards…..ahh….THE BOG FROM HELL!
I know he’s there. He definitely headed in its general direction. You see the memory of fine dining on fresh, spring wild garlic leaves is strong with him. It is after all, his most favourite of all forages. “No!” I cry out, “it’s the wrong time of year, your search is in vain my friend”. Does he listen? No he does not.
I call him. I call again. And again. No sign. So I make my way down the slippery bank side glancing over at the chute of doom beside me. It glares back, as if to say, “If you think it’s slippy where you are, try putting a foot on here”. It’s algae ridden slope mocking anyone who believes this may be an escape route.
It doesn’t take me long to see a familiar face at the the bottom. “Jim” I say, “you’re ok!”. He smiles back up at me, wagging his whole derrière furiously. Reaching out to grab his collar urging him to jump out, it quickly dawns upon me that he is unable. The collar slips off in my hand and Jim continues to giggle at my futile attempts to free him.
So, deep breath taken, I step down into the quagmire and stand beside him, knee deep in squelch. I gather my arms around this 39kg hunk (up from 34 last year oops!!), squat low, engaging whatever puny core I may have and even squeak out a “Roar”, as I attempt to pick up this guy and shove him to safety. Nope. Absolutely no movement whatsoever achieved. “No lift!” I hear from the imaginary judging panel watching from the sides. “Seems middle age spread has caught up with us both” sniggers Jim!
Therefore, avoiding further embarrassment, we wade our way downstream and manage to get a foothold on the bank further along. Pushing through bramble and thicket, eventually we stumble back out onto the path. At this point, Jim belies his 63 year old self, and sprints in circles in ecstatic joy, at the escapades that have just taken place.
Lead reattached, we regain our composure once more and head for home, hearts fluttering. Just another dog day afternoon you may say. A wry smile crosses Jim’s chocolate chops. “Take that Old Father Time” he thinks to himself, who by now is nowhere to be seen.