Sometimes I worry my dog’s eyesight is not as good as it should be. I thought of this on the crookedshore as his wet nose nuzzled my right hand this morning. He was looking for his tennis ball which we throw into the sea for him to fetch. But I didn’t have one because the previous day he just refused to bring it back and it escaped on the tide.
I woke early this morning, perhaps because my sleeping body was startled by the brightness of morning sun through the windows. So we found ourselves on the crookedshore with no-one around. I listened to the Rostrevor Benedictines of Holy Cross sing an Ascension Sunday introit from Down Cathedral. Then, after the batteries ran out and I removed the earphones, I was so startled by the urgency of the birdsong around me that I entirely missed the fact that Tobey had blithely left the track to lie in his favourite mudpool.
In fact, mud was a bit of a theme for the morning. At a startlingly wet part of the path I slowed to pick my way through the morass, seeking firm footing before stepping out. When I was as far in as there was still to go, standing on a relatively dry part, I studied a smooth, wet patch in the middle. Was it a flat headed stone or just undisturbed quicksand? Hard to tell, but I decided to risk it. It was only a split of a split second, but it was a breath-catching moment.
We reached the highest part of the walk then turned, which was when we met the first human being of the morning. He wore a black top and grey camoflage trousers. Judging by the look I decided he wouldn’t be one to engage in any way. How wrong was I. He looked and smiled, stepped two strides past me and turned to talk. And I did too. He had a delicate shiny-coated black labrador.
A little closer to home there was a grey haired man wearing a jacket that seemed to reflect the sky itself. He pressed a handkerchief to his nose with his left hand as if the smell of the gorse was offensive to him. Without lifting his eyes he muttered a muffled ‘morning’.