I promised myself that this year that I wouldn’t do it, no I most certainly would avoid it. Definitely this year it was not going to happen, absolutely not. Damn n blast it, I relax my well rehearsed guard for a fraction and it has happen all over again. It’s the first match, this weekend, of the six nations rugby tournament and once again my nerves are totally shot at and my expectations for by beloved Welsh team air higher than ever, when will I ever learn to have the slightest self control at this time of year and do my shredded nerves a favor? So this morning I decided to stretch my legs, leave the world and rugby behind me, and hit the trails so soothing my nerves. A simple plan, what on earth could be more relaxing than trails so familiar that my feet can read them for me if I were to wish to close my eyes as I strolled along, where there would be nothing more threatening than the gentle hum of the shy fauna as it shakes itself free from the grip of the last few cold weeks. With the winter sun on my upturned face and the bog monster gently loping at my side, what could be more soothing? Ah bliss. Funny how sometimes the mind can lull you with its picture of how the trail will be when in reality…..
It started innocently enough, ok the winter sun had failed to make an appearance but, although overcast, it was dry and chilly, not cold, as I loaded Lucy into the back of the fun cruiser. As we climbed into the hills there was a slight nagging feeling at the pit of my stomach that all was not going to be as planned. We neared our destination and I then knew for sure that all was not as planned. Mist! It’s not that the mist stops me on these particular trails, I know them well and as I said I could walk them with my eyes closed and let my feet read the way for me. No, here it’s not the fear of losing my way or walking blindly into danger there is another, far more sinister, reason why the mist gives me such foreboding and that reason is;- Lucy.
I should have turned back; after all I knew what was coming. I should have turned back and hit a meandering river walk well below the level of the mist. But oh no not me, she’ll be fine I thought, she’s older, a plodder, she’ll just lope along the trail splashing her way around from start to finish, will I never learn? I acted normal, made her wait with the tailgate open whilst I checked everything was in order and nothing forgotten, called her down with a quick word and then we were away through the kissing gate and onto the trail. The mist was not that thick, visibility was really quite good up to about twenty yards and Lucy hurtled off ahead in her usual lung bursting sprints just to warm her up. All was well with no sign that the devil dog was going to unhinge my mind this time. Foolish mortal that I am, how could I have been so blind, it’s the mist that does it to her you know, just low lying water particles, not even a full moon or rabies, no just the mist. I should have known that she was biding her time, just waiting until we were a couple of miles from the isolated safety cell of the fun cruiser. Just waiting for the mist to close in so that the trees became menacing shadows creeping ever closer to the edge of the trail, for the dampness to quell all noise and cover us with a blanket of silence and for trail to lose its straightness and to start twisting through the thicker, more over grown, woodland.
Still nothing I thought, it’s just not going to happen, for the first time she’s going to ignore the mist and let me enjoy the eerie, calm forest around us. Pah! stupid, stupid boy when will I ever learn. Just as all thoughts were leading away from my impending doom she bloody well goes and does it! It’s only a little thing but it tears at my deepest and most primitive fears. And the damn thing is that I’m positive that she does it just for the devilment. I suppose you’re all on the edge of your seats know, tense with expectation, just waiting for untold horrors to unfurl before your very eyes? Well here it is, Lucy, my faithful companion for years, stops on the trail, turning she walks slowly towards me, tail firmly betwixt her legs and then sits not five yards in front of me, leans to one side to look down the trail past and behind me sniffing the air and with a stare so intense that I have to spin around to catch the demon that must be stalking us from behind – nothing, not a sausage! I look back to Lucy and she starts and hurtles forward along the trail for twenty yards as if there’s a stampede coming from behind. Then not five minutes later she repeats the whole performance again and then again and again.
Now I consider myself a pretty unimaginative sort of guy, I know that the chance of coming across some wild animal with fangs and claws big enough to do me harm here in North Wales is about, oh lets see, ah yes nil. I’m not the sort of guy that people tend to want to do violence too, I’m big enough and ugly enough to look after myself and also give a fair account against all but the most determined would be highway men. Certainly I’m a little skeptical about things that go bump in the night. But every time we go out in the mist, or it catches us out on the trails Lucy does this with out fail and for some reason it scares the proverbial seven colors out of me. I can’t give you a logical reason, in all other matters I trust Lucy emphatically and maybe this is why it affects me so. For her to act as if something is stalking us in any other situation would mean that I’d turn a head back down the trail to glimpse or confront whatever it may be. But I know that there is nothing behind us here, but she makes the primitive in me scream out for flight or fight. And do you want to know something else? As soon as we leave the tree line or the mist lifts she’ll run past me and I swear to God that the glance she gives me as she hurtles by is one of laughter, of knowing that she’s bloody well done it again.
We got back safely to fun cruiser, me with a stiff neck from forever turning to glance behind me and Lucy?, that’s right covered in all the slime and detritus that she could muster. She’ll do it to me again, I know this for a fact but I tell you next time I’m not going to glance back – honest. Call me stupid, gullible even, but I tell ye now the mist brings out the devil in my little bog monster. Oh and my nerves? Absolutely shot……