Newcomer

There is a slipper in the middle of the lawn. Beside it, a newly dug hole in the earth. The culprit is nowhere to be seen, but a rustling sound beside the woodpile points to her presence.

I whistle, a long ‘wooo-wit!’ A pause, a moment, then a thundering of approaching paws. I make a doomed attempt to sidestep the tornado. She crashes into my legs, bunts me with her long nose, impatient for fuss. She is, I reluctantly admit, quite without manners.

It has been four weeks since she joined the family. In this time she has decapitated many an unsuspecting daffodil, knocked stones out of the path, learnt to wriggle underneath the garden gate and successfully ingratiated herself into our affections. Half Saluki, half collie (we think) she is slim and fast, with a tail a good three inches too long. Her greatest joy is tummy rubs. And now, it seems, stealing slippers.

Her name is variously Tarn, for a mountain pool (more dignified), and Dory, for Nemo’s forgetful fish pal (oddly appropriate). There are determined factions in place, which I sidestep by alternating or calling her Pup. Tired from hunting in the woodpile, she collapses beside me with a flomp and a heavy sigh.

Unconsciously, I echo the sigh. The news does not get any less bleak – globally, nationally, locally. In one side of my notebook I write ideas for action – campaigning, coordinating, rallying, working for change. In the other, notes about flowers and birds and the beach. ‘The goldcrest is back’; ‘Hagstones – with holes through – see the truth (Pratchett?)’.

I am torn between withdrawing, pulling in the boundaries of my world – on one side, the copse where the woodpecker nests, on another, the River Tweed, finally the blue horizon line of the fields out front – and, full of anger, wanting to make anger a tool – to shape it and smooth it down, to put a sheen on it and make it ready.

I stroke Tarn’s ears, go inside. There is a spider in the sink when I get there, enormous and startling, long legs scrambling to scale the unscaleable porcelain. I put out my hand, coax ‘Up we go, come on, hup now’. She skitters off, freed from the sink, disappears. I make the tea.

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