“Footpath closed due to dangerous bridge”
What better way to entice the intrepid explorer and his canine companion. First to navigate a barren and oddly hilled field. Myrtle was certainly taken by it, darting here and there with great enthusiasm. My eyes were fixed on the dark woods at the edge of the field. As we approached I could see no obvious way in — the footpath must have been closed and unused for some time. I turned to look along the line of dark brambles and trees, then turned back to see if Myrtle had any ideas. Yet there was no dog by my side. No sign of her and no sound of paws splashing through mud or the jingle of the tag on her collar. Just complete quiet. I called her name and whistled. Only seconds had passed but there was no response, only stillness and the faint cawing of crows on the blustery wind.
This was unusual behaviour.
I called again into the woods to no avail. The trees offered no way in so, wary but with the excitement of a hunt ahead of me, I ran to the brow of the field for a better view. Still no sign of her. The sky was thick with darkening cloud, the wind blew across my face. Dusk was approaching. I returned to the wood line. Now a small pathway in was clear although I had not seen it before. I ducked and squeezed in between the brambles to find a dark interior sloping steeply downhill. And much mud. This woodland had seen few human visitors. I feel that we found each other’s presence curious and disorientating. I traversed a part of the wood calling occasionally, listening intently but still no sound or sight of her, my sacred teacher. So I returned to the field hill-top in hope of finding her waiting for me there.
Even a serious situation can be fun and exciting as long as options and avenues remain open. It is when there is no where left to turn that prospects become daunting. The weight of the situation became real in me: a mysteriously lost friend in an unfamiliar, expansive woodland, many miles from home with darkness swiftly approaching. Thoughts of Myrtle, cold, hungry and alone, far from the comforts and safety of home. Running through the darkness, eventually curling up, exhausted, in fallen leaves.
Myrtle had never been lost before. It had been a long time now.
How foolish I had been to come here at dusk, a most powerful time for mischief.
My physical efforts had failed and any hope of seeing at all would soon be gone. I needed help. I let go of my panic and fear and called out to the wilds. I asked to find Myrtle safe and swiftly. Then I stood silent and alert to any faint sign or heartfelt instinct. I remember looking out into a grey and unwelcoming sky, just waiting.
Then it came, far from faint, a sign loud and clear. From the trees on the horizon line, a great buzzard alighted, crying out, her long wings beating and curling as she rose. She flew to the right a little way then circled and cried out twice more before moving on. I was in awe and lifted by this miraculous sign, if it was indeed a sign. The excitement gave me hope but I must confess to some disbelieving. I dashed back into the woods heading for the buzzard’s mark. I found myself at the top of a steep and muddy slope. And there, at the bottom, she was standing, panting and wild. The relief and enchantment swept over me. I called to her. She looked up, somewhat confused. Then she came galloping up to me all covered in mud. We knew not to stay. I gave thanks to the wilds for such graceful help and we ran back to safety.
Once out of the woods, I could see that what I had thought to be a mud-splattered face was actually a blood-splattered face. Many scratches were upon her.
What happened to you in that most mischievous wood Myrtle?
Did the goblins take you away my love?