It’s been raining enough to give Munson a bit of cabin fever, and so while Gustav was busy baking in the kitchen, we took a walk up through the front fields. I’ve got my hoe for attacking random outcrops of brambles, and Munson is just Munson, sniffing and chewing on everything of interest.
After I had exercised myself enough, and had some brambles exact bloody revenge on one of my legs, we sprawled out on the grass beneath a trio of oaks. Two years ago, most of the land between here and the house was covered in vineyards. Now it’s grass, alfalfa, clover and cow poop.
Just below us, but not visible, is the Africa-shaped pond. It’s not as exotic as the Africa-for-realz that Munson was surveying in September, but it has its odd attraction. I’ve been dropping bits of oxygenating pond weed in there, which may prove beneficial to the carp. They’re fighting with a rather reduced water-level and who knows what they’re feeding on. The last two times I’ve been past, I’ve seen one leap completely clear of the water to clear gas or silted-up gills. This time, I encountered a large one propelling itself on its belly in the shallows, at least half of its body above water. When I approached it wriggled back into the murkier “depths”, which may not be more than 15cm.
At four-and-a-half, Munson has now spent half his life in France. He’s about the same age as Bondi was when he came to Australia with me in 2003. So different, so similar, so adorably indefatigably malamute. Bondi would have been 14 this month and I sometimes reflect on how he would have appreciated the slower pace of life for his senior years. Of course I wouldn’t have contemplated this move if he were still around; our time back in Sydney was a stable and secure retirement for him.
As amazingly varied and stimulating as life has been with Munson’s to date, it’s his maturity that is the payoff now. His companionship is more meaningful because it comes with his appreciation of our shared experiences and not just the fealty of dog to master. There are great times ahead.