We do a lot of walking when we’re in England. Not just because the weather is a nice change, but because England seems to welcome walkers. There are endless footpaths, new ways to go, always something to see. In Australia the landscape is often harsh, less inviting.
And of course in England, we have Hecter. A motivation for walking if ever there was one.
As our last day draws ever closer, we embrace those walks, dreading the last one. Arriving in England is so lovely, seeing people we haven’t seen in so long, and meeting new additions to Dean’s family. But leaving, oh it kills me. Every time it seems like time just runs out too fast, like it’s not ever going to be enough.
So yes, eventually, we come to the last walk.
A cold day, the frost before the snow (which we would miss, again), it’s just Dean and I with our shadow, Hecter. This is the dog that made me love dogs. The dog that lives for walks and doesn’t let anything slow him down, including the cancer diagnosis last year that took us all by surprise. To him, life is fine as long as there are walks. It’s a good walk too, even if the shadow of it being the last one hangs around us like wet clothes and dread. The English winter never felt so good, with a blistering summer waiting for us on the other side of the world.
The trees are bare, but we’re basically alone in the fields, listening to the gentle moan of traffic in the distance. Dean and Hecter throw sticks and chase each other and act like they aren’t a day past childhood. I try and capture it all, because this is it, the last walk again.
When we left England last time, the weight of leaving nearly drowned me. With the visa process still ahead, with nowhere to go, it felt like we would never find our place. Of course we did, in time. Now we know that Australia is home for us, but that doesn’t make it any easier, and we’re still waiting for that damn visa.
I did get one photograph of Hecter that really made me laugh. I’d been working on getting it for the last few walks, which shows just why photographers need to persevere when they have a shot in mind. When Hecter takes off, particularly if he’s running towards Dean, there’s a joy in him that’s impossible to miss. He’s just so damn happy, to be moving, to be running, to be alive. I want to approach my life with that kind of energy, so it’s a motivation for me I guess. Motivation to laugh and to throw myself into everything with all that I’ve got.
The photo reminds me of something David Dudley said, a quote I first heard in the short film Denali, which coincidently will bring you to tears no matter how many times you’ve seen it:
“When someone you love walks in through the door, even if it happens five times a day, go totally insane with joy.”
He might not know much, but joy is something that Hecter definitely gets.