This is a photo taken at the park across the road from where I live (and yes, I do know how lucky I am to live here). The girls and I walk there most days, often twice a day. Although, sometimes I don’t walk. Sometimes I just sit on the grass and listen to the birds or the sounds of the river or watch the girls as they potter happily about (crowding around an interesting smell they have found, then weeing on it, repeatedly)—just chillin’ . . .
Although it might be hard to believe looking at this scene today, last week we were virtually housebound for two days due to inclement weather.
The wind howled and the rain hammered and it was cold. I did tentatively enquire once or twice whether the girls might like to go out for a quick walk but was met with stony stares from Maude and Molly and the sight of Mabel’s bottom disappearing hurriedly under the couch. Well, okay then. But by Friday the weather had started to clear, and this time when I asked ‘Anyone want to go for a walk?’ I was nearly trampled in the stampede to the front door.
As we made our way across the park we passed an area often referred to locally as ‘the swamp’—a low-lying area wedged between the park and the Breakwall.
At high tide water from the river seeps under the Breakwall and starts to fill this space, turning it into a kind of shallow lagoon. There are always ducks, herons, plover and other waterfowl, and even the occasional pelican floating idly about, and in the drier areas there are plenty of little lizards and tiny crabs scuttling about around the rocks. (There are also rats and snakes down there but we don’t talk about those. Shudder.) But at low tide, the water all drains back into the river and all that is left is a muddy plateau with a few salty puddles scattered about.
It was obviously very low tide right then and this area was the driest I had ever seen it. There was virtually no water to be seen and a dry crust seemed to cover the whole area. Because it was so dry and there were no birds to be seen (and I thought it was still too cold for the snakes to be out) I figured it might be fun for the girls to go down and do a bit of exploring.
I don’t know what I was thinking . . .
After two steps I suddenly remembered why it was called ‘the swamp’—the crusty surface was actually only about 1mm thick and I immediately sunk up to my ankles. The whole place was like quicksand. I looked up to call the girls back but . . . too late . . . Molly and Maude were already off and running.
Well, at least Maudie was running. Molly, who is . . . how shall I say this . . . somewhat rotund, got about ten feet before she crashed through the thin surface and ended up bogged up to her shoulders. She turned to gaze at me pleadingly. Sigh. I picked my way slowly over to her, losing my shoes three times in the process, and, just as I got to her, she heaved herself out of her muddy hole, staggered three steps and bogged herself again. Again I got close, and again she released herself. And again.
I decided I wasn’t going to play that game and started to make my way back to where Mabel, the most sensible among us, had decided to wait out the madness.
Sure enough Molly soon made it to a point where the ground would hold her again (as I knew she would) and they all spent the next 30 minutes delightedly thundering to and fro—chasing penny lizards around the rocks or noses buried deep in the undergrowth—knee deep in doggy delight and delicious oozy smells. By the time they all came back to me, ready to go home, they were exhausted, filthy up to their eyeballs . . . and the happiest I had ever seen them.
Not wanting to spoil their day I decided not to bath them as soon as they got home (that just seemed mean) so I wiped them down as best I could, fed them their dinners, and watched on as they fell into deep, exhausted (and river-mud stinky) slumber.
The next day was a whole different story, of course. They were all bundled into the bath before they could even think to complain (or run and hide) and I then spent the rest of the morning washing their doggie towels, doggie blankets and anything else in the house that they, or the swamp, had come into contact with.
What the hell—it was a very small price to pay for a day of ‘mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful’ fun . . .