A Walk in the Park

It was a strange conversation to be had at 7am in the morning but considering the topic it was probably better than politics or religion.  I'd seen ‘Four Dog Lady’ many times before and had passed a few salutations when our paths crossed. It wasn't difficult to wave and shout 'Good Morning' and continue on my way, but occasionally I felt the need for a bit of chit chat and allow the dogs to sniff, growl or consider their pecking order before moving swiftly on.  As usual, it was a beautiful morning in the park. 

It wasn't an ordinary park found in suburban areas, but acres of beautifully planted shrubbery, paths for runners, and a haven in the early mornings for dog walkers. A spot we'd named Twilight Barking was a point where four paths met at an open space beside a bridge and running stream where dogs could cool down and clean off the mud from the walk before they returned home. Dogs and owners would converge at this point, either starting or finishing their walk, say hello and then move on. 

You didn't have to cross paths with the beast who'd prick up their ears then come charging at you intent on getting to your two dogs who walked calmly by your side. 

This didn't happen too often but occasionally the two dreaded huskies would would corral the puppy and nip him as he lay submissive with his legs paddling the air. It wouldn't be long before the older boy spotted what was happening. He'd look up from his interest in sniffing other dogs ablutions and when he did, he'd bound down the hill, his fierce, deep war cry echoing through the air. As he reached the group he'd rise up on his hind legs and bellow his warning. It surprises me each time as he’s a gentle, quiet boy most times, but is obviously protective of his young charge. 

They didn't scrap. His fierce stance was enough to have them running back to their inept owner, who stood in the distance blowing into his silent whistle. It obviously wasn't working.  

The morning was a beautiful crisp one. It wasn't quite autumn, but the leaves were falling from trees in preparation for their quiet time. Like I said, I'd seen her before with her own four dogs. I'd chatted as I waited for a friend who was late that morning.

I remember how we continued our conversation and how it started. It began fairly normally. A comment about a limp that Brown Bear had displayed (the delicate boy has issues with stones and won't walk on gravelly pathways), with Four Dog Lady stating that she'd helped my friend on a previous occasion in the park. 

“Yes,” she said “her lurcher pulled a leg muscle and I used my gift to make sure she was on her feet in no time”

“Ah,” I responded, thinking she'd meant a topical muscle rub that maybe someone had bought her. “What did you use?”

“My hands” she replied 

I giggled inwardly. Very often, I'm not clear about the response I'd expect, and waited for her to expand. 

“Yes”, she said “My gift are my hands” raising her palms upwards like an offering. “I heal!” 

Maybe it was too early or maybe it was because it wasn't after 5.30 pm and I hadn't had a drink, but it felt like the conversation was about to take a surreal turn. It's not that I'm not interested in spirituality or alternative therapies. I am. Very much so. I carry crystals. I sneak precious stones into the bags of the kids to keep them safe, and I wave white sage about when I feel a bit 
overwhelmed with the things that seem to go wrong on occasions. I close the toilet lid so that our fortune doesn't disappear down the toilet pan and I have a Buddha in the garden (apparently I need to raise it so that it's looking down on me. Christ knows how I'm going to do that! It weights a ton!).

However, I must have shown an interest as she continued.

“I heal myself and I heal animals.”
“How interesting” I said. I should've given myself a kick at that point but didn't. Foolishly.

“Yes, my boyfriend once took me to another world” stated Four Dog Lady with her gently frizzing grey hair surrounding her head like a halo, belying the awfully young sparkle in her eyes as she recounted her otherworldly experience. It must have been awesome for there were tears in her eyes. 

“It was beautiful” she'd recounted. 

“Oh yes?” I enquired politely “Where was it?” 

I hadn't been listening too closely so I was surprised when she replied. 

“I've no idea. I floated away on a bed of clouds. He couldn't get me back.”

Maybe she'd been speaking metaphorically. I know what it's like with words. You can say one thing but it might mean something completely different to someone else. 

“It must've been amazing.”

 I'm not sure I'd meant the floating away part or couldn't get back bit. If I'd been floating away I'm not sure BH would even try to attempt to drag me back. After 30 years I'm pretty certain he'd love to see the back of me!  

“Oh it was scary”, she recounted. “Eventually, I turned into a bird and flew above the ocean. I was alone and afraid and couldn't see anything for miles. I was getting tired. My wings were feeling the fatigue of the journey but there was no where to land. I saw a dark speck in the ocean, swooped down. There was a seal swimming close to the surface so I flew down and sat on its back to rest for a while. It was my boyfriend! He saved me!” She looked incredulous. I looked even more so. 

“I then turned into a seal and we swam, and swam and swam!” 

“Gosh, that was lucky!” I wanted to ask how they eventuality ‘got back’ but that would mean asking the question and continuing the conversation. 

I wasn't completely sure I was listening to someone sane.  However, what are the chances of two crazies falling in love and going off in the same journey? I wouldn't know the odds, but I'd guess it 
would be pretty unlikely, unless there was a club nearby for crazy, otherworldly beings nearby. I certainly hadn't heard of it but then again I'm not in the habit of avoiding the utter nutters club as they normally make a beeline for me and I only realise too late that I've once again engaged with a member.

At that point, my friend arrived with her two fur babies and we continued with our walk. ‘Four Dog Lady’ continued to walk with us until we reached the bridge which crossed over one of the many streams and we said our goodbyes. 

I was itching to tell my friend of my conversation and as we walked into the woods with our dogs playing ‘chase the fastest through the danger zone and avoid the trees’, I recounted my conversation.

“I've done that too” she said. 

Then she winked!


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