Thank you so much for coming to visit a dog poet. My poems for Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge are a take on life from a canine perspective. We poets – and to date I seem to be the only dog poet – write one of the structured poems permitted and have to integrate, as synonyms, the two words given as a prompt.
This week the word are spring and sing; I am doing a Tanka.
You can find out about it all, and have a go yourself, by clicking below:
Last week I had to relinquish my van, which had been our friend, transport and accommodation, as we climbed the first 50 mountains on our quest to conquer the 282 Munros in Scotland; they are the mountains over 3000 feet. While I had grown to love the character of my van it seems that’s it’s unreliability was a bit of a liability. I had very mixed feelings about this transformation and wrote about then in this blog:
The phone calls that had been exchanged, between the spot 400 metres from my parking place (just off the road at Bridge of Orchy, where we had a faint signal), and our caravan in Ullswater, were sorrowful and full of pathos. The old girl was giving out, her back legs no longer working at all, or reviving just a little. Caring duties had become wearing duties and our absence had added an additional strain to the small domestic unit. After last nights call me and B had a long chin wag, reaching a decision to go home a day early, after our walk the next day.
Thus it was, thinking of the old girl, that we set off to Beinn Mhanach with our hearts in our boots making for v. v. v heavy feet, causing the inspirational celebratory of yesterday to metamorphose into Mrs Plod. It was a long, long walk in of nearly two hours duration, through the beautiful Auch Gleann, with not many metres of ascent along the way. Thankfully, on a day forecast to be v. v. v hot, an early start had given us a head start and shade thrown down by the hills kept us cool.
As we came to the hydro works, and our route took off north up the steep-sided, pathless flank of ‘The Mountain of the Monks’, the sun in splendour announced itself in blazing shades of gold, at just the wrong time. Thus, the usual huffing and puffing serenade was today punctuated with much panting and pausing, which even I was joining in. The quick steep hop up for speedy Gonzales, who had written one of our guide books, was given quite a different description in which the words: shattered, sprawling and, bitten off more than I can chew, decorated the page. However, and with good grace, Mr Sun put his hat back on and this little gesture gave us a bit of respite. We fought our way up hill by way of meandering Zig Zaggs that eventually got us to an easier gradient, just below the top.
On our way up the focus had largely been taken up with the lack of progress made by B’s plodding feet. Then, at the summit, all was transformed. A 360o vista displayed the Southern Highlands in a panorama that spoke straight to the soul. This contrast refreshed mind and spirit so that, thoughts of ditching the whole project were miraculously vanished from the radar, no more than 45 minutes after being planted there. Drama and Queen are a two words that passed through my mind at this time, for some reason.
Soaking up the views, and the inevitably bit with the camera, delayed our departure but, finally, the long drive home penetrated our thoughts and we turned to face the slog down the big hill and long walk back to my van.
If zig, zagging was a means of easing the gradient on the way up, all it served to achieve on the way down was dizziness and total confusion. One minute we were heading west in the direction of the fence we had crossed on our way up and the next we were going a long way east in exactly the opposite direction from where my van was parked. I became more than a bit disturbed by this loss of direction, thinking that perhaps my person’s brain had been pickled by the sun and the effort, or perhaps the bottles that make her very happy, which populate my van. Then, thankfully, just in the nick of time, some fellow hikers sitting by the fence called over, in a hail fellow well met sort of greeting. Happily, B waved and trooped over, back on a westward trajectory. More of that incomprehensible Munro dialect that I had witnessed yesterday took place over the next ten minutes or so but, I was so pleased with these humans I remembered my manners and even got praise and treats from them, for my good behaviour, much to the disgust of the canine in their pack.
This diversion seemed to have cleared B’s brain because, after this, we set off straight down hill and were soon back on the track, starting the long walk back to my van. With the object of today’s adventure achieved and the 52nd Munro firmly in the bag, we began to visualise the lovely surprise that David would get when he saw me; I would brighten up his day.
Not too far from the end of our walk, while crossing a cattle grid, we encountered the strangest thing. A chubby little lamb had fallen through the grid and couldn’t work out an escape route, a thing that was beyond our combined grey matter too, even though I’m a big-brained Border Collie. We set our hopes on finding someone at home – a farmer type – in the cottages that were now in sight. Before then though we were able to flag down a passing vehicle and a shepherd was at the wheel. Twenty minutes later the truck passed again and a big thumbs up signalled success. We were so happy that we had rescued little Larry from his frightening ordeal.
I had meant, during the journey home, to keep a wary eye on B ensuring she didn’t go in for any of that dozing thing she often does when in the car with David. However, with the best will in the world, I did a bit of that dozing thing myself. Well, to be absolutely truthful, it was more of an out for the count, REM sleep, sort of dozing. I only came too when I was woken because it was everyone’s bedtime and I was in my garden at home. I’m sure I must have had some open eye time, to get a bit of dinner down me but, imagine this, I don’t remember; I was robbed.
Now there are no more Munros for Ben, until the old girl is the pot of gold where rainbow bridge ends 😦
I have neglected my blog for too long and now I need to get back in the grove, keeping you up to date with my 2018 Munro adventures, or lack of them to date. A v. v. v big welcome and thank you, to those of you who have joined my blog this year, taking a peek as I share my world and sometimes, even liking my attempts at writing verse.
Best big news is that I am still alive and kicking when I might not have been. My people’s desire to get me exercised early each day, by playing ball before it gets too hot, wasn’t very clever after all, when the temperature was, sometimes, already 20C. Apparently us canines can get heat stroke doing things like that. We read a big long post about it on Facebook and I can tell you it was scary stuff. Now I might get to play ball at midnight if it’s cool enough. Think of that, can the earth hold any greater riches than chasing a luminous ball at midnight?
Next big news is that my van is good to go for another year and all packed up too. Though I’m a bit concerned about where I meant to sleep. Being rather cheeky we took it for it’s annual health check a bit early, to avoid those nasty new tests that are probably going to set it up to fail next year.
We have been ready for the off since early May and had a lovely holiday in the Lake District, getting good and fit. Just then my person had to go away; she has been away tons and I don’t like that at all. Me and my van have been waiting patiently at home. Then, and anyone who knows Scotland will marvel at this, it got too hot, over 30C some days, can you believe that, in Scotland of all places. So, as a result, we had to give the Munros a swerve last weekend too. Now we are keeping our fingers crossed – which is actually quite difficult for a dog – for this coming weekend.
It depends on the old girl though. She has been falling further apart since her 15th birthday and her back legs have nearly gone altogether, bless her.
She does a neat line in stumbling about, once she gets a lift up, but the times when her wonky back legs won’t hold her up at all are getting more and more frequent. Soon it will be kinder to take that one last visit to the vet. That’s a day none of us are looking forward to at all. I really don’t won’t to even give that sort of thing headspace and just try and think about playing ball at midnight to help keep me positive.
For those following my progress, these are the Munros we hope to climb this weekend. Stob Dubh & Stob Coire Raineach, close to Glen Coe and then: Beinn Archaladair, Beinn a Chreachain, Beinn Dorain, Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Mhanach. All near Bridge of Orchy.
My earliest memory was playing a bit of ruff and tumble with my siblings in the barn where I was born. Then we did a lot of jostling for position trying to be the closest to our mum, when we collapsed in a heap at the end of our game.
Which way does the toilet paper roll go? Over or under?
I don’t know what toilet paper is.
What makes you feel grounded?
It’s when I have my dinner. Then all is well with the world. I jump up on the soft furnishings, turn around a few times and then settle down with a big sigh for a significant number of zzzzzzzzzzzs – Bliss 🙂
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
It was when my person came back after being away for a few days, doing that horrible work thing which I hate, but when she comes back…. oh, what unbridled joy. Then we settle down on the soft furnishings.
Can’t wait to see what you have all been up to and finding out about the up and under of toilet paper, what ever that is.
Thank you very much to Luccia Gray for nominating the dog-poet, suggesting he turn his paw to this photography challenge. Luccia is a writer, and exponent of the best in Victorian literature. She blogs at https://lucciagray.com/
I’m a bit in awe of this challenge business because I’m only really good for the odd family snap. Being a dog, it’s a bit fiddly with the paws and the press button, so don’t expect anything grand. The camera’s not up to much and it’s only basic editing. It’s a bit of fun and I’m so pleased to take part.
Here’s the job. Black and White Photography Challenge: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No explanation. No people. (and, Ben’s rule, no dogs) Challenge someone new each day.
Today I nominate Rebecca Cousins, my person’s niece, who has a lovely life on a canal boat with her best friend Bobby. Becky fights for something called social justice and this is her Facebook page. Me and Bobby are going to be such good friends. Accept this challenge if you like and when you can. 7 black and white photos of Bobby’s life, but not of Bobby himself, and post to Facebook.
I found this quote on Simonetteffect’s blog. Simon is a German photographer who loves working with black and white images.
“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.”
Irving Penn (1917 -2009)
I’ve been a changed dog after flogging up lots of mountains I can tell you, but it’s all worth it when ever I read this story and it certainly touches my heart. I am in love with Bumble SANDRA BELL AND BUMBLE – Partnership study . Bumble is on the left in the leaflet below… see what I mean
Uniquely, I am passing over this serious blog to B.
I am very proud to be raising money for a rescue service and I took these photos to illustrate the sort incident your donations go towards.
Last week Dave and I were involved in helping at an accident, where an 84 year old woman lost her footing on Ullswater lake path. She fell 80 metres through bracken, trees and rock to the lake shore, sustaining serious injuries. Only the most minor of roads gets anywhere near that location. However, within 40 minutes there were 4 mountain rescue vehicles and their launch at the scene, as well an ambulance, a fast response doctor, and a helimed. Had the group not know their location dog and handler teams would have been called out too. Accidents happen so quickly and, within a second, a life can change forever. The volunteers who drop everything to help are – I think -unsung heroes.
Thanks for supporting Mucky Boots and Flawless Paws, it means so much to me.
Back to Ben, to keep you updated on Munro progress.