When I was very young I would walk up the fire road where the eucalytus leaves hung down in silver green tassels. I was joined by Papa- my grandfather, Alex- a silky golden retriever, and a walking stick. We walked up the fire road between a narrow ravine and a sandstone cliff face. Engraved in the sandstone was a sailboat with 'Liz' & 'Coll' etched into the sails; carved by Papa for my cousin Lizzy and myself. It's still there, getting more shallow with each year. And in the road, puddles. It was here that I first discovered the universe contained within a puddle. The puddles on this walk usually were full of: silt, rocks, eucaplytus leaves, and eucalyptus nuts. Contained within, I also saw a bustling community in miniature, and I wanted in. I was a visitor from Brobdignag, kept out by my size, frustrated by my inability to enter that world. These were early glimpses of imagination, from whence came a lot of my early play. Crouched over a puddle, setting things afloat, squinting at the sun's reflection, stirring up silt. I remember wanting so badly to be small so that I could ride on that leaf, or hide under that eucalyptus bark that is floating by. By it's diminutive size, it seemed safe and small and cosy, and I wished I could crawl in and live my tiny life with the nuts and rocks and leaves. The only way I could participate in the world inside each puddle was by carefully dipping in my walking stick and doing something I called "filling up": Soaking the stick so that I could drag a wet line from one puddle to the next. I think I will name this walk.....
Item 4: Walk with Papa & Alex,
because as I am remembering the puddle walk, I realize how I have 'read' this walk, and how right I felt while I was on it. I felt comfortable in my skin, completely loved and accepted by Papa and Alex (and Grandma, who waited at home with game shows, macaroni & cheese and a TV tray.)
Every walk, the scenario was the same: Papa lets Alex off the leash and Alex runs on ahead, around the bend in the road. The woods fall quiet. Papa looks at me, grinning and I giggle back in the sudden stillness . "Now!" I squeal, and Papa throws back his head and lets loose a piercing whistle. It is still quiet and then we hear it: dog tags jangling and toenails clicking, Alex returns, barking joyously and I am laughing. Muddy, slobbery and eager; golf balls in his mouth, waiting for his reward. Papa gives him a dog treat and a pat on the head. Perfect.