Monday, 29 October 2007

Mud

One thing I have noticed since we acquired a yellow dog is that she has a magical attraction to mud. We often walk with a friend and her retrievers: 2 flatcoats and a golden, and it is always the blondes who head straight for the muddy squalshy bits. I know that if you're a black or a brown dog of course the mud doesn't show as much, and I do wonder, why, when I filled in the forms for the rescue society from whom we got Holly, I wasn't a bit more specific when filling in the bit about what sort of dog we wanted: I bascially said anything as long as it wasn't about to die, when what I should have said, bearing in mind my aversion to cleaning, was any colour that doesn't show the dirt.

In my attempts to avoid a full wash-down situation with buckets and shampoo, I try rubbing the dog briskly with one of our vast collection of dog towels (our towels are all so ancient now virtually all of them are dog towels. She is much better off for them than we are) which does transfer the mud reasonably well, but then of course one has to wash them, and the combination of mud and labrador hair then blocks the machine, which I then have to unblock. So I am doomed, doomed to spend time I do not want to, cleaning, whether it's the dog or a recalcitrant machine.

When I was little I used to spend most of my holidays with my grandmother, who still owned a bit of the family farm, down the side of which was the magical Roadway. One of my guilty childhood pleasures was squelching down its length in bare feet and sploshing the mud between my toes. Delicious, and a wonderful wild change from my white ankle socks and sensible Clark's sandals.

The Roadway led down to the River, but not directly, as we had to detour round our Great Uncle's field to get there. There were two great forbiddens in my childhood: the River - never to be gone into, or we would be dragged under and drowned by the terrible Weeds - and crops. Absolutely never, under any circumstances, were we allowed to walk across crops. Once my sister and I were in a hurry to get to the River, and after taking a careful look around we decided there was no one about, and we could risk it. We belted across the field, and of course the seedling crops.

It wouldn't happen now, when many farms are worked by one or two people, but we were seen. When we got back to my grandmother's my great uncle was waiting. Recently I had to cut the corner on one of my walks to stop the dog from eating a dead rat, and had to, oh the horror, tread on the crops. I felt the guilt for days.

5 comments:

Gillian said...

I grew up in a large Norfolk village. I don't remember specifically being taught not to trample crops, but it was something I knew about.

I do remember just once, some kind of tunnel making game in a tall wheat crop, but I did feel guilty about it. By and large, we stayed out of fields, and played in woods or occasionally, unoccupied meadows.

I still tend to cringe when people out hunting in pony books commit sins like leaving gates open or riding over crops. You just don't do it !

Jane said...

I think it's that Jesuit thing - give me a child until he's 7. My sister is just as indoctrinated as I am!

Gates weren't so much of an issue as the land was arable but I am still a manic gate shutter and I know what you mean about the sins in pony books. Is it Pony Club Camp where they gallop over the Major's winter wheat?

haffyfan said...

As Gillian says it something I assumed people just knew...but looking at the path through the turnips across the road I am beginning to think most people missed that lesson.....The flippin footpath is only 10ft to the left but will they use it????

I think it was Pony Club Team where they trampled the field...and John Manners drove the tractor into the post to boot? Or am I thinking of a different incident?

Gillian said...

'Pony Club Team' they played gymkhana games on a field of new grass, which John later attempted to roll.

I don't remember them trampling winter wheat offhand, (I could be wrong), but in 'Pony Club Camp', when Tommy has bolted during the sound hunt, the Major complains that Poppy (?) was dithering on her horse, "churning up my roots", instead of taking action.

Jane said...

Yes it is Pony Club Team where they ride on the new grass. John Manners tries to roll it but succeeds in driving the tractor into the gatepost.

I have a dim memory of someone galloping on winter wheat, but it's probably from a completely different book!