Posts tagged: elegy
This time last year, I walked along the Deveron River on a near daily basis. Walking along water is walking along a new path every time.
I walked by myself when the grass was still low. When the grass was my height and the heather in full bloom, I began walking with Moss, the Border Collie I lived with for my last three months in Scotland.
Moss was a direct descendent of active sheep herders, owned and cared for by Maureen, who kindly let me board with her in the town of Huntly. I lived in a room at the top of her house, and every morning Moss would be waiting outside my door, ready to go.
I didn’t walk him every morning, even after I started working from home. Maureen was in recovery mode so I took on dog walking duties. Moss would patiently wait for me and when I had at least an hour, we would take the back trails through the woods, down along the football field and to the base of the Gordon castle. We walked against the current to the pasture before the bridge and circled back pass the travelers camp and cut across the practice fields and back up through the woods that came up onto a clearing.
Moss would be off the lead as soon as we hit the woods, finding the largest throwing stick possible, and our game would begin. He would never bring me the stick, but would leave it at a distance between us as he lay waiting with stealth. I had to race him for the stick, which was often a fallen log, and if successful, I would swing it across the high grass, or into the river, where he would bound and fetch so that we could do this over and over again the whole way around.
At the time, I realized that suddenly with an animal, I was no longer a trespasser in the small close-knit town. People recognized Moss, and as a result they began to recognize me.
During the last few walks we shared, I wondered if he knew this was it, and I wondered if I was going to remember these moments. Significance looks back at you in unpredictable ways. I didn’t write about it then and not a single photograph exists of these walks. Even the boots have long worn out. They were just daily walks with Moss, who bound in and out of the tall grass, looking back at me.
I received an email from Maureen today, recalling the significant details of my time in her home and letting me know that Moss had been hit by a car on the 25th of June. He was six years old and is now buried with his ancestors up in the hills across Tap o Noth. I wouldn’t have thought this, but I find myself mourning this creature unlike any animal I have known.
I actually think about Moss a lot, especially when I’m walking through the park, and how he would struggle being on a lead all the time. He was smart, but wild and reckless, and always ahead of me, if only to look back.
Strange as it seems, I was in fact mourning for the death of an animal on the 24th of June on this side of the Atlantic. I was driving from Banff to Calgary on Highway 1 and following a curve in the road I saw a deer that had been freshly struck. It was lying on its back with its legs kicking in spasms and its head was flailing from side to side in the middle of the road. Cars kept speeding by and a RV was pulled over to the shoulder a little ways up with its driver and passenger assessing the front of their vehicle. The deer was still moving when I looked back through the rear view and tears uncontrollably streamed down my face then, as it did today, to the point where I didn’t even realize what was happening until after.