house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Midweek Momentum

Wednesday afternoon: Kira comes back from school half-early and wearing someone else's jacket. It is yellow, like hers, but also nothing like hers. It is twice her size, has a tartan design on the inside, and no zip. She didn't notice. (Didn't notice?) We go back before the (bigger) owner of the jacket does notice.

Then on an impulse decide to cycle to the land, where Moona is working, waiting for us, or – most likely – talking to someone. I love to cycle to the land, through town and then down the ecopista, a nature trail winding along the Minho all the way to Valenca. The one part I can't say I enjoy much is being attacked by a small but loud and vicious mutt within yards of the house. It's happened every time, and now I dread it.

I am bigger, I know, and endowed with (some) reason and intelligence. Besides, I have two strong legs, potentially lethal footware, as well as two hands, two wheels and a bicycle horn. But what do I do when the dog appears charging at me from a side-lane? I scream and pedal furiously; my pulse goes through the roof; I flail my arms and wobble on the bike; I become a red-faced maniac and a huge traffic hazard. It's really silly, and sad to behold.

So now I have this thing about it – way before we get to the tricky crossroads, my stomach flips and I start sweating. Today, I appoint Nikita my champion and we set off. In Cortes, the village before ours, all the dogs seem to have assembled to bark together with annoying fixation. A little reminder to my blood pressure to start climbing.

At some point we pass a field with a few trees and a foal. Despite appearances, it is not a peaceful scene: the foal is being pestered by a massive dog that stands on the path above, growling and howling and pacing along the fence. They can't get very close to each other, but they both try. The foal arches its lovely glossy back and lifts its tail, before neighing with gusto and charging at the dog.

Lesson one: you have to stand up to bullies. Note to self: look, a foal is braver than you. Smaller note to self: can I take it with me to deal with my scary dog too? Didn't think so.

In the end, my scary mutt doesn't even turn up. Now that I'm 'armed' with a teenage boy, a small child, a foal (my new guru, there in spirit), and several pebbles in my pocket; now that I am ready and oozing murderous intent, it stands me up.

Lesson two: It knows. It will get you when you're alone.

No matter: now we're home and it smells of spring. The sun has already rolled behind the hill. It left its magnificent mane behind, a wide lane of light to coat the hillside and horizon and stir my grateful heart.

Not much hard labour left for the day then. Brief, but back-breaking and very smelly – we drag sacks of manure up two terraces to be dumped on the new vegetable beds; these sealed stink bombs weigh a ton; once opened, they unleash the olfactory definition of hell upon the weary passer by. And her disgusted children. And their bikes.

One good thing about the job (lesson three: always find the bright side): it helps, once and for all, illustrate the meaning of 'upwind' and 'downwind'.

Now I only need to figure out which is which.


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