The new puppy, Slinky and I have made quite a substantial path round the field since the end of July. We walk it twice, sometimes three times a day. We always walk it in the same direction but we vary the time taken. We sometimes stop and lie on it. I stick to it, the dogs use it as a rough guide only. My footsteps have squashed the grass into a pale trail, a lightly snaking contour. It has edges, I can walk it in the dark without loosing it. Milky with dew in the morning, it dries more quickly than the surrounding grass and rabbits and pheasants have begun to use lengths of it. Slugs cavort on it in the evenings, wrapped round each other in slimy love, they produce big bubbles of pale blue…… what?… eggs?….. ecstasy? Whatever it is, it’s vanished by morning and the slugs are single again.
Our path passes young scots pine, glowing ochre with old needles. It loops round oak trees, blotched and brittle with mildew. It crosses the scared site of a bonfire. Twenty years ago three articulated lorry loads of tyres were burned here, black smoke and flame could be seen fifteen miles away. The poison in the soil is visible as finer grasses, and small contorted trees with gnarled leaves. There’s a pause in the path by a large patch of brambles. All three of us stop to gorge on blackberries, cool and cobwebby in the morning, warm and sweet by mid day. And then we arrive back where we started.
We haven’t made an epic journey. Our adventures are small but the pleasures of being together, all set on the same course are great. It’s a tour of the recent past. It’s a good place to keep your feet dry. It’s an opportunity for snacking, a slug pick up joint and of course it’s the whole world to my puppy for whom each step is a joyous beginning.