67. The Mud Baths

Dear Tera,

It’s been a wet autumn.  The leaves don’t fall, so much as get bullied from the trees by the driving rain.  On the ground the dead leaves don’t crackle and crunch under foot.  They squish – a sodden carpet. 

The tree fireworks haven’t been that brilliant this season either.  No incandescent reds or neo-neon yellows.  All the leaves have taken on a muddy hue, which means it’s easier for squirrels to hide.

But there are advantages to this kind of weather.  In their constant search for ways to fulfill our lives, the humanoids have removed the gravel patch at the west end of the park and replaced it with … mud!

Mud!  Mud! Glorious mud!

There’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had nothing against that big patch of very fine gravel.  You could get pretty good traction on it when chasing a ball, even if it was a bit rougher on the paw pads.  The balls bounced well. 

And occasionally the humanoids would gather there to hit balls with sticks, and run around in a square pattern, stomping on bags as they went. 

It looked like a good game, although they didn’t let us chase the balls.  Or fetch those big club-like sticks, for that matter.

And I sort of liked that big high fence at one end of the gravel. 

Alpha used to throw a tennis ball high over the top, and my challenge was to learn to run around the fence to retrieve it.  The removal of this big fence may be an impediment to the education of our younger dogs.  Somehow they must learn that the shortest way to retrieve a ball is not always a straight line.

But the gravelly patch was not very hospitable to animal life.  The squirrels rarely ventured there on their journeys from the parking lot to the river.  Once a year, in the late spring, old gramma snapping turtle would haul herself up the river bank to deposit her eggs along the area the humanoids call the third baseline.  But that was about the extent of the gravel patch as a natural habitat.

But mud!  Mud!  This truly is glorious!  How considerate!

First the trucks came in to deposit big heaps of topsoil.  Then dozers came to scrape away the gravel.  Somewhere around that time, the fences were removed.  Then other vehicles spread the topsoil so that it was ready to receive the autumn rains and turn into our mud baths.

I’m not sure that the humanoids are smart enough to leave a good thing alone, though.  I hear Alpha tell the Pup that eventually they will put grass there.  Something about turning a baseball diamond into a soccer pitch. 

I can only hope he’s making this up.  Surely they can all see what a perfect addition the mud baths are to our community.

But just in case he’s right, let’s take advantage of the luxuries while we can.

So bark with me bark,

Down at the park,

Where we will all lark

In the wonderful mud!

                                                            Heading home as happy as a pig in mud,


The Contest

            Many of Zoscha’s readers have observed that she often sprinkles her prose with various quotes, parodies and allusions.  If you can identify a reference, send your contest entry to oscar@oldottawasouth.ca, using “Zoscha’s contest” in your title line.  Or drop a note off at the Firehall.

            For last month’s column, the virtual pat on the head and doggie biscuit goes to Bill Grant of Windsor Avenue who correctly identified William Butler Yeats as the inspiration for Zoscha’s reference to “things fell apart, the centre could not hold, mere anarchy was loosed upon the world.”  He assures us, however, that the best still have their conviction.