As I’ve been walking around under a cloud of volcanic ash wondering, like many, when aircraft are going to restore that reliable sense of speed we have got used to in our lives, my dog Lucy has been concerned with developments on the ground. As the earth softens and emits the many smells of the life within it, Lucy is in sensory heaven. It has been a long, dull winter without the aromas of the earth and only endless amounts of white snow that, to her chagrin, leaves her fur sparkling clean. For a dog, not walking around with something ill-smelling in its fur is the height of unattractiveness.
So far I have managed to stick to my new regimen of a long early morning walk in Drottningholm Park. It is a wonderful new habit but I fear that Lucy and I have objectives that are at odds. While I am seeking to break into a sweat, burn energy and tone muscles by keeping up a goose-step pace strictly between 6.30 and 7.30 am (when I have to be home to ensure that the children get breakfast before I start work) Lucy is in a timeless search for the smell of all smells. Like a connoisseur, she slows down at each tree to appreciate the many great smells that a tree bears: the smell of birds, squirrels, deer chewing at the lichen on the bark and of course canine buddies who have previously baptized the tree. Like a speed tyrant, I drag her forward and reprimand her for inattention to our schedule.
On one of the back paths we run into Crown Princess Victoria looking athletic in black followed by two noisy lifeguards. “Hej”, she comments gently to Lucy who naturally captures the spotlight with her timeless sense of joy. Then it occurs to me that not even a rushed crown princess who most likely has no desire to greet more beings during her precious early morning hours can resist being drawn in by that affectionate space that a dog creates. Even if dogs physically live in our harried world, spiritually they preserve that original authenticity of joy in the moment that just then seems to have no limits.
Lucy is all done with her pal the Crown Princess and has now found a snail to focus her attentions upon. The snail is crossing the road at a pace which is painful to observe. There isn’t a great deal of traffic here but all it takes is the occasional vehicle to send the snail to purgatory. My urge is to lift up the poor little critter and move it to safety on the other side of the road, but something tells me that we should let nature take its course. Lucy and I watch the snail with ears pricked until finally its trail has left a shiny line across the road. We look up and find that a vehicle has been waiting for us to be done with snail hour.
Although she can be annoying I cherish my dog. How else would I learn to appreciate the delicate progress of a snail?