The sun is out as Dora and I walk, and I can hear wood pigeons in the trees. I tip my head back for a minute to look up into an ash, and nearly get squashed by a fat blonde in a Range Rover. She revs angrily as she swings round me, and I can see her hunched over the wheel in her dark glasses. She doesn’t look particularly anchored in her seat, and I wonder if she’s hovering, and pretending her car is a chariot.
Chariots of ire. Probably serves me right, gawking into trees.
I’ve recently learnt something about ivy, and now I’ve become fascinated. Apparently, ivy is not at all as I thought, and a killer of healthy trees. Those little stubby suckery roots aren’t for feeding through (as a mistletoe would), but just to hold the ivy in place. The bushiness and height of the ivy depends on the tree and the level of light the tree canopy lets through. The older and weaker the tree, the more ivy it has.
Ivy is also, apparently, excellent for roosting bats. I like bats. I like their snubbed noses and blinking eyes, and secretive shyness.
I walk along, imagining having radar. I would love radar. My glasses are invariably on top of my head, tangled in my hair, so I spend a lot of time ignoring people I like and walking into low branches.
We’re in Dave’s field now, and bending down to see if the wheat’s growing, I notice the rich red-brown earth covered in little balls, like half-melted hail. *
We reach the tiny spinney with the deer-path between the two fields, and stop to look for fresh prints. Someone else walks my illegal trespassing way, and they have very large feet. Horley’s own BFG, blowing dreams at a gang of naughty Muntjacs.
By the bridge to Emma’s Bottom Meadow, I see my first Red Admiral of the year. Dora doesn’t chase it now she’s the Senior Dog, and has a reputation to uphold.
We cross the meadow and bump in the Gnash with her rotty-cross, Roxy. Roxy’s unnerved by Dora’s Jack-rat bolshiness, and tries to hide behind Gnash’s flowered wellies. We both agree how nice it is that we’re off-the-lead dog walkers, and how worrying it is when your dog gallumps up to a nervy on-the-lead walker. ‘Awful,’ we say. ‘Awful’.
Heading home up through Horley, we pass a group of waxy white narcissi, with backwards facing petals, like daffodils given a terrible fright.
At the crossroads outside the pub, I see the new Horley Wife whose house Dora rampaged through the other day. I really want to go and say hello, but nerves get the better of me. I flit away, battish, thinking: next time.
* I later find out it’s fertiliser (which I’d guessed). It was nitrogen and sulphur. Apparently, sulphur helps plants absorb nitrogen, rather like white wine helps me eat scallops. I can do it without, but it’s rather more of a poor show.