Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hiking sticks, Ridgebacks and Rabbits


            It is difficult to reach retirement age without some sort of impairment.  I don't know if it qualifies as a physical or a mental impairment but I have taken a lot of pictures down at the river and on more than one occasion tripped over a branch or rock while I was looking off toward the mountains or clouds.  Largely as a consequence, I began making myself some hiking sticks -- sticks for all seasons.  I probably would have stopped at 5 or 6 but my out-of-work son who tries to make ends meet by working as a handyman; thought he would try to sell hiking-sticks.  So I went into full production.  I'm sure I've made at least 40 for him.  He has yet to sell any but is sure he will eventually.

            What I do is pick up likely looking pieces of deadwood at the river.  I scrape off the leaves and ants and do a cursory check to make sure there aren't any major cracks in them and then take them home where I examine them more thoroughly.  Some have cracks or flaws I didn't notice at the river.  So some have been reduced from hiking stick-length to cane-length.   And then I learned of two relatives who needed canes.  Also, a neighbor from across the street saw me taking a few pieces of deadwood from my Jeep and asked if I made canes.   "Well, I could," I told him and took him into my garage where I had some hiking-stick rejects.  He picked out a piece he thought would suit him and I made a cane for him; which he claims will get good use. 

            Also, my sister, who lives in Colorado has injured herself on more than one occasion by slipping on the ice; so of course I'm going to have to send her a cane -- or perhaps a "walking stick."  I'm not sure I know the difference.

            Unfortunately my possession of a goodly supply of hiking and walking sticks, not to mention canes doesn't help me when I'm walking my Ridgeback girls at night on farm roads.  They are usually calm enough so that I can hold both leashes in one hand, but I have a flashlight in the other; which is more critical at night (perhaps) than a walking stick.  I know the area well enough so that I can leave the light off for most of the walk, but I like to be able to turn it on to see what they are up to if they bury their heads in a bush or some other thing that I can only see the shadowy outline of.

            Last night we went on a walk that we hadn't been on in some time.  I was appreciating how agreeable the girls were.  We crossed a street and I shined my light and then wiggled it in the direction I wanted to go and said "this way, girls," and they immediately followed the light.  What marvelous girls, I thought, and appreciated them all the way onto a very dark road.  A rabbit crossed nearby and neither girl reacted.  Then while they were sniffing a bush I noticed what looked like a rabbit sitting still, perhaps 15 feet away.  I shined my light on it and at last saw it move.  "Look at that girls," I said. wiggling my light where the rabbit was.  Bad mistake!  When they finally saw it they bolted toward it -- both at once -- and I had their leashes in just my left hand. 

            I can't remember exactly what happened but I might have gone down to my knees.  I don't know why I wouldn't have, but my trousers aren't scuffed and my knees aren't sore -- everything else is, but not the knees.  The flashlight was jerked out of my hands but I yelled angrily at about the same time and they stopped.  When they were younger they would have tried to drag me all the way to the rabbit, but they are older and more sedate and they stopped after hitting the end of their leashes and hearing me yell.  Well, no harm done.  When it starts getting hot here in San Jacinto, we switch from hikes on the river, where they run off leash, to walks in the cool of the night where they are on leash.  We obviously have some adjustments to make. 


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