Expessing myself without a camera

The story of a dog

It was one of those mornings that the sun never makes an appearance in the sky dome. I was awake struggling to finish off a yesterday’s cigarette left in the ashtray, trying to choke down its stale taste with a coffee that was getting cold. I was sitting on a wide chair with my feet up near the hearth succeeding to maintain the heat I carried from bed and I was thinking. No, I wasn’t thinking I was absentminded and staring at the flames. Around me people were walking by, doing their daily morning chores, making me feel even more depressed for not doing anything at all. I was trying to excuse my idleness making myself believe that I am an artist and my job is to take photographs but little “me” on my right shoulder would argue “and why aren’t you outside trying to take pictures?” making my head hung more towards my chest looking at my belly, feeling even more useless.

The coffee had gone cold and was impossible to finish, the thick air of the room was starting to make my head spin. For three weeks I was idle, a situation unknown to me for that period and the rain wouldn’t stop. The weather had brushed away all autumn colours without replacing them with white. There was snow on the peaks from the previous snowfall but where my feet had dragged me it had melted leaving only mud. Mud is fun when driving, it makes the route fun though this isn’t a feeling shared by everyone.

A week ago my parents had come for a visit and one morning asked me to take them for a drive somewhere nice. Told them I would be taking them from that village to another without going into any further details and so five people stepped into the car. My aunt, my cousin, my mother and my father. The first two had done that route again with me so they knew what to expect, my parents on the other hand were blissfully looking out the window for as long as we were on the asphalt. When we crossed the first stream right at the beginning of the dirtroad I caught my dad with the corner of my eye gripping the door handle till his knuckles turned white and when the car was starting to rock sideways in the thick mud like a fishing boat on rough seas he started to burp like he always does when he is nervous and stressed. My mother just stopped talking, in the beginning she was trying to entertain her fear with some awkward jokes but then there was just silence. The distance on the dirt road wasn’t long, about ten kilometers but full of mud and water. In our final ascent towards the main road and whilst my father had already seen the end of his ordeals my cousin decided to blow his nose, a noise which for my distressed father sounded as if the engine broke down and looking at me with genuine fear waited for my soothing words that everything was fine. For a fraction of a second lasted this misunderstanding but it was enough for me to burst into laughter. The mind is playing weird tricks on us when we are afraid.

So my walk started in mud. I wanted the fresh air but mainly I wanted to leave so I wouldn’t see other people working and the opposite, other people seeing me doing nothing. I was planning to go alone but the dogs had seen me and were rushing towards me waggling their tails like flags on a parade. Not all of them came, the fat pointer was eager but the warmth of its blanket was a stronger magnet. So the chief, the oaf, the hound and me started our chilly winter morning walk and before I reached the end of the village a bark turned my head and I saw the fat pointer running for its life towards me. Probably someone has started the vacuum cleaner back at the guesthouse and the fat pointer is so very afraid of the vacuum cleaner. I didn’t want to stress myself doing a demanding path nor had a mind for taking pictures, the weather was wet but it wasn’t raining, the atmosphere was crystal clear, the clouds were heavy and hanging low and a refreshing wind blowing from the north was bringing with it the chill of the snowcapped mountains. We all started walking, heading towards the village underneath, four kilometers down the road there is a sign directing to that village through a dirtroad and the plan was to get to that post and return. Of course I was the last of the bunch, a bit ahead was the chief with his no nonsense stride, the hound was sniffing everything imaginable following us from the hillside and, a playful ball, the oaf and his mother, the fat pointer, several meters ahead enjoying their time outside. I may not had my gear with me but my mind was always on the lookout for potential photographs both possible and impossible, so while we were strolling down the road I was evaluating places that could potentially offer a photograph in the near future. Poor chief must have grown tired of me moaning and complaining like I always do when I am scouting. And so while taking our time we reached the sign post after a few scares that the hound had given me with ongoing traffic. You see she is a “hare dog” as we call them here like a beagle I once knew and when she picks up a smell she doesn’t care if it’s a skateboard or an aircraft carrier behind her. I stood by the post not knowing whether I wanted to return or not. I liked being outside, the hearth though promising warmth didn’t attract me, a short whistle to the chief who had drifted on and I directed myself towards the dirtroad. If the chief sees me the rest will follow and soon I was again the last of the bunch.

The road goes through a beech forest completely stripped of foliage this time of the year, offering a good view of the very characteristic land folds of the area. I found a few spots that had potential with a good clear vista and headed further down. Completely alone with my only concern that what goes down must come up but I didn’t care, I just continued. At the end of it, a very picturesque village which we reached shortly since we were marching downhill. We would have made the trip much faster if the fencing constraining two huge shepherd dogs had holes. When I have the chief with me I feel safe but with their size and the ferocity they were attacking the fence I think I would have run since the chief was also by my side giving me the “if you run I will run there is no shame in that” look. Fortunately the dogs behaved themselves at the cobbled road of the neighboring village apart from the fat pointer who jumped at a little girl who touched its muzzle begging for more cuddles and the oaf who darted for an open car door. I caught him right before he stepped into the stranger’s car screaming at him like crazy at the village’s parking lot. There, at the parking lot we had an unexpected encounter. We found the prodigal son, another big dog like the chief who used to be part of the gang but decided to move on, though no one knows why. My guess is there was a female involved. There is always a female involved. I didn’t expect him to follow us since he left the gang by his own will sometime ago but I guess he missed our company so he slowly got up from near the dumpster he was laying and started sniffing his friends asses for the welcome.

Both the steepness of the road we had taken and the huge shepherd dogs made the decision to return by the main road easier. It was a longer walk back but a more comfortable one, it is a very scenic road and the low clouds playing with the peaks and rolling down the valleys made it all the more interesting. Five kilometers later we were approaching the end of our little adventure and as I was emerging from a narrow turn of the road I saw all the dogs circling an abandoned car which I found it strange since we had passed this car at the beginning of the walk and they didn’t pay any attention to it. So I approached and as I did I could make out a small black head with brown eyebrows and a set of white teeth trying to make the small head look as menacing as possible. Another hound, scared wet curled up on broken glass. I wish I could say it is rare for dogs to end up abandoned near the village but I can’t. Many hunters who realize that a dog isn’t or won’t be what they expected it to be just leave them to die. Some have the curtsy of abandoning them near the village where they know that they will be taken care of. Others just abandon them anywhere and some of them are lucky to find themselves at our doorstep. One of them was this. A cutie. I used a rope I had with me and tied it to her leash and brought her to the kennels with the other dogs. She was very nervous and her tail couldn’t go any further beneath her back legs. Like any hound who respects their origins she wolfed down the food I brought her and then had some more, the other dogs didn’t seem to mind her since she was a female so I left her there with plenty of water. The next morning she was gone. She had chewed through the rope and left.

I wasn’t worried, I knew where to find her and so I did. On her bed of broken glass. Why she liked it that much I don’t know, probably she felt safe but with bears and wolfs prowling for food I wasn’t going to leave her there. She was staring at me and she was talking to me. Not barking but talking. You know, those weird noises that dogs make like the dogs that litter youtube those days. Maybe one day I will make one of my own with her. I named her “Lexi”. It means “word” in Greek. I took her for a walk, she never left my side. I threw away her leash.

 

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