In late July, Jamie-dog, David and I joined two friends for lunch and a walk. We met at a regional garden / hotel / cafe where we enjoyed a light lunch, cake and coffee. We parked the car deep in the shade as No Dogs Allowed was clearly posted at the outdoor cafe.
After the meal we all took an easy walk along some of the trails. At first Jamie enjoyed all the farm animal scents, moving slowly. I felt mildly worried as I had noticed how much he'd slowed down compared to last summer and some days he didn't want to go so far. When we reached the wooded trail, he perked up, happy to be on a new path with a new adventure on the way. The trail wound down to the Oslo fjord where on the rocky shore of Åsgårdstrand we passed Edvard Munch's summer house. Jamie lead the way, tail swinging happily jumping from bolder to bolder instead of walking round, grinning with his whole body.
We lost the main trail, following the edge of the water until we reached a dead end where the not-quite trail narrowed. Two feet could balance on a ledge to walk to a sheltered cove with a sandy beach, but four feet could not.
Jamie inspected the trail, looked at me saying No way, I can't go that way,** and turned to walk along the rocks of the fjord. Jamie finished his shore patrol and came back, looking from the fjord to me, asking, Swim? "Go ahead," I told him. He glanced to the water and focused back on me. No thanks, I want you to come too. I looked at our friends, I glanced at the family of three at the beach and Jamie caught my eyes again, looking at me steadily, waiting for my answer.
I sighed and checked to make sure my underwear and bra were a darker colour.
"David, would you carry my clothes around to the beech if I swim Jamie there? .... Good. Thank you."
"I'm going to swim I announced to everyone. My underthings cover more than the average bikini."
As I started to pull my shirt over my head Jamie did a little dancing jump of joy. Yes! We are swimming! While I untied my shoes he rushed to the spot that he had already scouted as the best location to enter the water. For a moment he stood poised, his front feet in the water his rump higher up on the rock. Then he glanced back over his shoulder his brown eyes shining with joy. I'm waiting for you.
"Go ahead, Jamie. I'll be right behind you." He paused a moment more and then, always cautious going into deep water, eased off the rock, with a modest splash. My heart smiled. He knew that he could not get back up those rocks and he trusted I would follow and swim with him to the beech. He swam in three tight circles waiting as I picked my way over the rocks and slipped into the cold shock of water.
Soon David made his way to the beech and, putting all our clothes in a pile, joined us. When Jamie was ready, we moved into the shallows. For a good while we stayed in the warmer water, me sitting while he stood on his front legs, his buoyant Labrador backside floating in the gentle waves. We watched our people out in the water, wading and swimming looked at gulls floating on the waves and enjoyed this magic of living in that moment.
He was tired that night, but comfortable and happy, sleeping contentedly on his back.
One of the lessons all my dogs have taught me is that life is a very temporary arrangement. My dogs have never bemoaned this fact. They have lived in every moment and enjoyed it all.
That day I lived in the moment and forgot about modesty so that we could have our swim.
**A foot note
No, I did not have telepathy with Jamie. But anyone who knew us well knew that Jamie could look at me and 90 precent of the time I knew what he was thinking just by reading his body language and the situation around us. It went both ways, I think he knew my moods better than I did.
And last but not least, the photos are not from the walk. I locked my phone in the car that day because I wanted to enjoy life without having to catch in in frames.