Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday April 11th 2021
It’s a few minutes after six a.m. These are stolen minutes. I think there are only four of them.
“You have to do this,” I mutter. I force myself out of bed. I imagine what a limpet feels like when it’s torn from a rock.
I plant a foot on the floor. No, you can’t retreat. No, not even for five minutes.
Get OUT. Get OUT.
I plant the other foot on the floor and reel towards the bathroom.
Well, I’m conscious and I’m vertical.
My friend K. plans to pick me up between eight thirty and eight forty five. We are off to a funeral in Worcestershire. The journey will take us about fifty minutes, so Isis will be on her own for at least three hours. She must have a good walk first.
Soon I’m downstairs, holding my hand out under a somnolent muzzle. In seconds my smell permeates her nostrils and flies to her brain. She opens her eyes.
Snuffle, snuffle. Wag. Wag. Human’s here. It’s getting up time. Something nice is going to happen.
Most dogs I’ve known would be very indignant to be woken at this unearthly hour. Or at least a little surprised.
Not Isis. When she feels her collar close to her neck, she leaps in the air as she always does and lets out a little “Woof!” I pick up the collar as I always do and try again.
When I look out of the porch door, my already sunken spirits sink a little further. The windscreen and windows are coated with ice.
A couple of days ago people were out in t-shirts. Last week even I put my thermal tights, gloves and neck warmers away, and swapped my arctic anorak for a light weight one.
This country really is something else. The weather forecast said it would be cold today, so I have reverted to four layers again, but I didn’t expect ice.
The good news is that Kings Heath Park will be empty so no worries about The Virus; also, it’s too early for sun; and we arrive during a flurry of haily snow, so Isis is very impressed.
I’m beginning to recover from the trauma of separating myself from my bed and I gaze around me. The park is magical in the frost. Every bit of it is transformed into something other.
Diminutive rinds of frost have spread themselves along the stems of the japonica, like fraying hems.
The sun and the frost heighten colours, throw up contrasts, enhance shapes and sharpen edges. The whiteness of the magnolia makes me blink, and behind it, each of the tiles on the pavilion roof is neatly outlined in frost.
Isis and I stand in awe. We’re both electrified, she, I guess, by the piquant scents
I by the visual feasts.
I stop by every clump, shrub, trunk, every woven, frosty square of wire fence. Even the grass has been transformed into a textured, mottled, woven thing.
The park is transformed. It’s a struggle to move on. I want to linger, to explore everything.
Our time is limited, though, and Isis has another plan.
Today it’s so delightfully empty here that I let her choose where she wants to go.
I watch her. It’s as though the frost is a scent shifter, and everywhere smells completely different. She appears to be a little disorientated, for it takes her a while to find her favourite route.
It’s clear that she’s made her decision, though. Yes! It has to be the Colour Garden!
I expect she’ll want to move on after a while to play on the bank and the mound. But she doesn’t. She spends all of her time here.
I took a lively video of her dancing around her favourite shrubs, but today videos refuse to upload to the media gallery.
*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk