There is no doubt my life is richer since I have a dog… or two. One dog -you’ll perhaps think- is enough, but I can tell you that two dogs are even better. It seems I walk more with two than with one.
Ever since Lollipop arrived -my second dog, the little one-, I have been walking at least two times more and twice as far each time than I used to walk with Salomé, my older doggie. You might ask why… Well, it isn’t because of the dogs, of that much I am aware; rather it is for the pure pleasure I have found in the walking.
I leave in the morning and stroll to my regular coffee shop to meet with my French friends, two dogs in tow … or racing ahead as the case may be. Usually it is with one racing ahead (Lollipop, being the younger) and one trailing behind (Salomé who -as the queen of the realm-takes her time). An hour later, when I leave to walk home, I take the long way around, or go to the park before returning. By that time, it is 11a.m.
Around 90 minutes later, I foot it back into town for lunch and take another, longer walk afterwards. Then, again, about three in the afternoon, it is time to trot into town anew for an afternoon coffee at the shop in the center where they offer dog biscuits to Salo and Loli (for short). Both canine damsels know they are going to get treats and pull desperately to get there first.
The way home takes us on another loop around the other side of town and sometimes we slip into a smaller road or some alleyway we haven`t been up before and discover a special corner that offers a new view. At 5 o’clock, it is doggies’ time for dinner so it’s back home again. When everyone is fed, out we go for yet another stroll, this time heading for the roads behind our building, to the public vegetable gardens and the general compost deposit, where I will leave my little gathering of vegetable peals and wilted lettuce leaves.
Our walking is done until after my supper and perhaps watching a movie or writing a blog or playing solitaire, and then about 9:30 pm., a last turn around the block for a nighttime pee.
It sounds like a lot of work, but actually it is a gift. I am obligated to get up from my computer, or the book I am reading and go outside. And outside is where life is. At this moment it’s where autumn life is. What colors I see! What fantastic combinations! What unexpected natural Works of art hidden in corners or down an alley between two brownish houses; at the far end of the park, across the street, in front of the neighborhood supermarket (unfortunately closed since the flood and with no sign of reopening)…
These are places I have passed a thousand times in the last 8 years, but suddenly an unexpected autumn color, a previously unnoticed combination of forms, a slant of sunshine that makes everything look new will catch my eye, and the camera comes out and the photograph is captured.
Recently there was a surprising new addition to Salies’ potpourri of shapes and colors, and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Someone, during the night of Saturday to Sunday last, had painted several walls with black, anti-Semitic slogans, calling the Holocaust a fraud. I was shocked that something that seemed so evil and violent had appeared in our peaceful little town and it seemed that everyone else was too. I had to actually look up what or who “Faurisson” was. It turns out that Robert Faurisson was a French Holocaust denier who died last month. Then -of course- the words Resistance and Shoah Escroquerie (fraud) suddenly made sense.
All day Sunday, everytime I went past the painted walls or looked out of my living room window at the small electric station across the way, I wondered who in the world would do such a thing, and the ugly words became the talk of the town. Then, yesterday, something beautiful happened. A local graffiti artist, who signs as Athorn, started covering the aggressive expressions with beautiful flowers, and turned something of hate into something of beauty. I saw him as he was finishing his work on the old, abandoned barber shop near my home, and I went over to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
“I do this without pay,” he humbly offered as an explanation, confirming what I suspected: his was a work of love.
So today, the walls of Salies have sprouted multicolored flowers and a feeling of peace returned to my heart.
Tomorrow, I’ll venture forth again with my trusty cámara and -of course, my two little doggies.