I awoke this morning to blackbirds chirping in the pre-dawn, a cool breeze gently disturbing the air in my bedchamber and stroking the pale pink flesh of my snout. It was an inviting day, a perfect going for an early stroll on Knocklofty kind of a day, the kind of day that would usually have had me out bed in a jiff. Before you could say Bob’s your uncle, I would be moseying up the hill to watch the dawning light pick out the grey trunks of the eucalypts. I would soak up the sense of calm and well-being that comes with fresh air and exertion, and knowing that a walk not only limbers up my hind legs but ignites my little grey cells. Not today, though. Today I just wanted to lie still and breathe. And I did.
These are the last days that I have the motor lent to me by a friend. It has given me the freedom to set out on my teepee adventure and it has spurred me on into making appointments across town, venturing out to locations off the bus route or after dark, and fetching and carrying plants, stationery, oats and what you will. It has meant being able to nip to places without a second thought.
Had I ever thought of getting a scooter, some chums asked a couple of days ago and the toad within remembered the exhilaration of riding Ratty’s Velosolex through France all those years ago. The Universe had other ideas. The very next morning, I was driving down my favourite avenue. Huge plane trees created a near canopy and the new leaves were dappling the surface of the road. The setting exuded calm. There was a chap on a scooter just ahead of me and I was thinking what an exquisite morning it was for riding one. We slowed down at the junction. I thought he had continued into the next street, but he hadn’t. There was an ominous thud.
He wasn’t hurt and nor was I, but the scooter was immobilised. At first my paws trembled and so did his, but our conversation was gentle and wove itself into realms that absorbed us both. We spent a couple of hours together on the grassy bank under the plane trees as we waited for the police and a tow-truck. There were moments when the unfortunate circumstances of our meeting faded from my mind, as did the likely repercussions. I almost felt relief that I wasn’t hurrying to my appointment, but more than this, I felt something akin to pleasure in this unlikely encounter between an ageing mole and a thoughtful doctoral student.
I am sure there will be a time when I hanker after wheels again. For the moment, though, my inner toad has deserted me. Having the car has made anything possible. Without it I will not be able to nip out at a whim. But I realise I feel a little fragmented by all the options laid before me. I like the way walking distances require me to defer and to plan ahead. It calms me to cluster tasks by location and carefully measure their timing. And I love the way walking allows me to slow down and breathe the space between departure and arrival.
I can encounter four-legged, two-legged and stemmed beings under less dramatic circumstances AND smell the blossom on the way.