I was walking in the woods today, wondering what I would write about in my next post on the blog, when the universe suddenly gave me an answer.
It had been raining heavily all night, and the path was flooded in many places, and muddy everywhere else. I felt smug about going out with the dog in all weathers. It was very noble of me.
Although it had actually stopped raining, the wind was clattering water from the trees, so my hat and cagoule were wet and cold. But there is yet another level of smugness, when I am dressed for rain and yet warm and dry because I have been so brilliantly prepared and sensible. I had the right footwear, stout and sensible, the right outer wear, light and breathable, and the right walking aid, wheeled and oiled.
There is a pride in having the right gear, and a song in the heart when wearing it.
By the first bench the path had become Amazonian in its wetness, Scottish in its midginess, and . . . running a slight risk of hyperbole here . . . Arctic in its coldness.
But this was all grist to the storytelling mill. It was all fodder for the pub and the fireside.
I came to the edge of the flood. The water was dark brown, the grass edges of the path were under water. To go round it, would mean scrabbling through dripping bramble bushes, on the one side, or traversing a slippery mud slope, on the other side.
I was dressed properly. I would go straight across the middle, for I had a cunning plan, that would also be a bit of fun. For even blind people with sciatica are allowed a bit of fun. Are they not?
So I turned my walker around and sat on the seat. The water was only a few inches deep, and I knew the ground was flat. I planted my feet on the dry ground, and pushed.
It was obvious what would happen. The walker, with me sitting on it, would gracefully roll backwards through the water, and I would step nonchalantly off it on the other side.
Had you been there, you would have come to the same decision, I’m sure.
So I turned, and I sat, and I planted my feet. The worst that could happen was that we would roll to a standstill in mid puddle, and then the worst that could befall me would be wet feet. Not so much a problem, more a badge of honour.
I pushed firmly.
To my irritation, you are probably thinking, well, it’s obvious what’s going to happen, isn’t it? How could he be so stupid?
But it never crossed my mind, you see, until the right wheel went into the invisible hole. I had a silly smug grin on my face till that moment, and, as we all know, at that moment it’s too ruddy late.
The walker tipped over to the right. All the way over. I would like to say it was all in slow motion, but it was actually quite fast. I just had enough time to think, “Oh no”, as I landed in the water.
Under four inches of muddy water there was four inches of watery mud. And to cap it all, Ruby bounded over to me, tail wagging, and splashed me with more mud, before licking my face. What larks! What a good game this was!
I struggled to my feet, in that gingerly way you have when your clothes are wet in places where they shouldn’t get wet, and hoisted my walker out of the brown gloop.
I limped home, black down one side, boots squelching, face, hands and glasses spattered with mud, trying to look as if it had all been deliberate and thanking the gods that no-one had been there with a camera.
The Apache have a word for this in their language. But I don’t know what it is. In English we have to make do with ‘stupidity’. It just doesn’t convey the utter stupidity-ness of it all.