It is Douglas' birthday. He is 14. Fancy that.
This is what boynton wrote six months ago:
... He was born on a cold Bloomsday. He should have been called Leopold. I saw him when he was 3 days old, bald, one of those strange squeaking little forms that blindly bleat for the teat, and paddle in the muddle of the litter. Time is catching up. I find myself staring at his beautiful thick black otter tail, that will still wag at the slightest cue, as other faculties decline, so finely tuned, will still wag at the barest hint of a smile
This is a picture of Doug This is a picture of a groundhog. When boynton saw the latter earlier this year, the similarity with the photo of douglas that had been taken a year before was rather striking. He is wearing her beloved tam-o-shanter that is possibly lost. It possibly fell out of her backpack one day in spring. Boynton hasn't been game to verify this. At the moment she is making do with a black balaclava
Soon she will go out for some baklava. Every year on this day she has bought douglas his favourite delicacy. He has at least one of the four honeyed triangles.
because it is indeed this very writerly day, boynton attempted a kind of loosely joycean post, obviously audaciously. But failed. Alas, she knows not her ulysses well enough.
"Just off to walk the dogs" said boynton to a friend on saturday
Half time in the football match. "I have to catch the light"
But it was already too late, almost dark, the light almost uncaught, no mark.
So off they set rugged up in found parkas, thickly clad, in the creeping cold. Officially winter. And unofficially. A hint of bitter, whispers of snow. The light set at legally blind - the colours going, the palette turning greyscale. Rough shapes and outlines, landmarks like railings and tennis courts, corners of park.
"Where's Doug?" said friend said
and boynton gave a casual nod of the head that meant: "he is of course his customary 10 metres ahead or behind me." As always. Is now and ever shall be.
But then he wasn't. There was only absence.
So she tracked back across the bridge along the creek and down the failing path as if following a blind lead, the way we sometimes pray, whistling a deaf dog, the other two, those spare dogs, high whining like pilots in the fog, sirens in the rocks,
and she was mistaking trees for beasts, denying that greater sense of absence that shadows us.
and suddenly there he was again, his black presence, just lost.
he looked caught out wandering off, that old disoriented look of demented senses often worn these days
And though she knows that soon the distance will close, the customary gap of 10 metres will recede for good like the snap of a retractable lead, for now we take up where we left off, an abstract end
with her friend back across the bridge heading home in the tracks of grim power walkers indifferent to a weakness for gum trees, that looked grand and sombre in the light of a full june moon.
Comments: douglas bloomsday
Lookin good for 14. Wish I had looked that good when I was 14. Cheerios and happy birfday Douglas.
Posted by Scott Wickstein at June 17, 2003 01:43 AM
Thanks - I'll pass on your greetings using the appropriate hand signals. That is the only way I can communicate with him these days, gestures as big as semaphore - or direct touch.
Well I think he looks better at 14 than a certain blue heeler at 4 - the greyness has been earned.
Posted by boynton at June 17, 2003 02:56 PM
I also went for a walk in the dying light of Saturday. Around Albert Park Lake and was amused by the swans, who fancy themselves as so grand, and so much better than the ducks, but who look every bit (if not considerably more) ridiculous with their feathery nether-regions stuck up in the air.
I thought at the time how good it must be to have a dog, to give one's walk a sense of purpose, rather than a mindless amble.
Happy birthday to Douglas.
Posted by mcb at June 17, 2003 04:26 PM
thanks mcb - and it was a great time to walk (if sufficiently rugged up) That really is one of the prime motivating factors in having a dog - it certainly does give purpose to the walk, and useful compulsion/propulsion on days like this that are rather bitter. It's a good "purpose" - not oppressive - and you can still amble if you want, even laden with 3 crazies. Now when I walk sans dogs I have that momentary "hands-free" anxiety!
Posted by boynton at June 17, 2003 05:19 PM
Small world. I've got a friend who went walking with dogs an moons an tree beasts an grey stuff. And grim walkers.
Posted by Pithy at June 18, 2003 12:20 AM
Probably with half of Melbourne. Synchroni City.
Posted by boynton at June 18, 2003 11:53 AM
A very evocative piece - do I detect echoes of the man himself?
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at June 18, 2003 04:55 PM
Very very faint echoes I would imagine Gummo. About the frequency at which Douglas hears most things these days. Despite what I may have declared above, I quickly realised that boynton was not quite up to the task of running this piece through a boynton-joycean-joke-generator. I had vaguely thought it might be a useful conceit, and I was only half right. So I abandoned the idea and ran with the hybrid.
Posted by boynton at June 18, 2003 05:21 PM