Hiking with a Chocolate Dog

We hiked through Newlands Forest this morning. The path while sometimes bending and twisting up and down was flat for the most part. As it lead into the canopy its surface changed from rocks and dust to a raised wooden footpath. The landscape shrunk to dense greens and browns through which the dogs would swim and clamber. Areo, our chocolate Labrador, was always fascinating to watch. She was both regal and gluttonous, sluggish and supremely agile. Walks were an opportunity for her to display her potential energy that she would happily conceal when lounging around at home. She was the chocolate drop, at home slipping from the couch to the floor to the other couch, always fitting her cumbersome and floppy bulk to her place of rest. On the walk she was a torrent. She poured down steep rocky descents, flowing through our legs and at the bottom she would stir about gently. Her golden eyes watching us and seeming to ask a very pure yet elusive question.

I often wondered how much she knows. She is intelligent and possibly very perceptive. Perhaps when she looks at me she is somewhat aware of subtleties of character, of my inner-turmoil and is trying to console me. She is a beautiful dog and perhaps as we do with all beautiful creatures, we ascribe far more to them than they ask for. She is a hungry dog and would raid the bins every night if the “Please Lock: Areo” bin locks were not fastened. She’s probably just trying to telepathically compel me to give her some food.

We reached the designated picnic point of our walk, a raised wooden construction built around a thin chopped down tree. This was the halfway point of our hike, the horizontal peak, and as such required the ingestion of some snacks. I had brought some chopped up croissants, my mom some grapefruit and apple slices and her friend a flask of coffee and some cups. “It is such a pity women are such light eaters” I thought to myself as I gorged myself on the remaining croissant pieces. I dipped a piece into my coffee (something I was told was ‘the French way’ by a woman I had had a fling with a while ago. I have since been told otherwise and so now not quite sure of the correct procedure, claim to dunk the croissants for sentimental value. The truth is that I just like dunking things in my coffee) before unctuously noshing on it. Creamy, coffee-y, buttery, my mouth’s relationship with this dunked pastry was intimate and all-encompassing. As it flaked and dissolved into the ether of my digestive system the familiar sense of longing and abandonment, the defining symptoms of pastry heartbreak, began to rise within me. My fingers (Note: plural) swept up the residual flakes that lined the Tupperware container. Ah, bless croissants flakiness. I am a clingy lover when it comes to pastries but our affair was well and truly over (for now) and so after eating the remaining, but this time offered fruit slices, we moved on.

It really was an easy hike and I was midway through convincing myself to go on a run later in the day when we came across a fork in the path. The decision was made to go left, turning up an incline instead of going right and continuing to wobble downhill. This was the motivation I needed to not go on a run later, the uphill had settled it. “No need to do two exercise activities.” It said gently. And gentle it was. Within a minute of walking the slope evened out and the path began to lazily undulate amongst the grass in front of us. I thanked the slope for its kindness and continued altruistically at the back of the group, making sure everyone had the chance of a view uninterrupted by a sad, inwardly deteriorating glutton. I cursed myself as I finally took note of the butterfly flapping in and out of my field of vision. I’m on a lovely hike with friends, family and dogs and I’m unable to enjoy it, to be in it. I spent my time gobbling food and forming lazy abstractions for the purpose of distracting myself. If I begin to start distracting myself from eating I’ll have to take direct action, something extreme to jolt this feeling from my being, to shatter this foggy mirror which dullens everything whilst forcing my perceptions back into me.