While on the subject of critters at home, i’m posting a photo of Wol the dog and one of our cats, Rommel. They’re best friends.
This morning I found Wol lurking among the bushes. I wasn’t glad to see her at the side of the road hiding among brown weeds and dying lanzones seedlings.
Wol is no beauty. Her facial features reminded me of a horse that once kicked me on the arm. Her eyes protruded from their sockets, as if they regret being part of her anatomy. She has a severe underbite – a row of cracked teeth poised precariously on her lower jaw and stuck out from her gray lips… a demented homeowner’s picket fence. She waddled when she walked, an odd gait that raised her right hip with each swing of her leg. Her hair was the color of moldy straw, and was often caked with the detritus of dead things that she came across in her walks. She loved rolling over roadkill, cow dung, and other highly pungent canine eau de parfum.
She might get hit by a passing motorcycle (or, worse, a careering dump truck carrying fresh produce from the farms a little way yonder our house) that’s why I wasn’t happy seeing her today. Anyway, it wasn’t usual for her to be out roaming by the road. Usually, she just sat at the shed where we parked our motorcycles, contented with harassing the cats or playing catch-the-tail-of-the-clueless-dog. But something must have pulled her to investigate her surroundings. I tried shooing her off. Her attention was somewhere else though… took no notice of me at all as I backed my motorcycle that Tata parked earlier at the roadside.
Wol looked alert, protruding eyes more ready to pop out of the sockets any minute, nostrils flared in interest, ears cocked in the direction of the road that wound its way farther up the mountain. Then, as I made a first unsuccessful attempt at kick starting the motorcycle to life (which just sputtered and belched thick smoke from the antediluvian engine), I saw something huge and brown barreling down from the direction where Wol was looking.
The brown blur quickly became the hulking shape of a great
wolf dog. It was as big as a baby killer whale. A baby killer whale with four legs that ended in claws that I only see on When Animals Attack specials. Its hackles bristled and its mouth was wide open, displaying an awesome collection of knife-sharp teeth. It was headed my way.
I tried starting the motorcycle again. And again. And again. But the engine only gave a helpless sputter. Someone in my head was yammering omigod, omigod… you’re gonna die… you’re gonna be eaten by a werewolf… no one will find your remains… they will bury an empty casket… omigod…hope it does not have rabies…hope it’s vegetarian…
Canis familiaris humongous was now just three feet away from where I stood trapped on the motorcycle that – Fate would have it – also didn’t have a kickstand.
[Random thoughts at this point: If I just let the bike go and run, I might damage the motorcycle and do without transport to Camp for several weeks until I could find money for repairs (that’s it if I were still alive by then). But can I outrun the werewolf? Wouldn’t it magically transform into a hunky guy who has great disdain for t-shirts? Would I see winged people playing with harps when I die? Which funeral parlor provides the best service?]
The beast closed in, and I could already hear the rumblings from its mighty chest.
I braced for the worst. Being mauled by a wild animal on a lonely forest road is stuff from which nightmares come.
Inches away from me now… I could see the strands of the creature’s bristling fur. Then, without changing speed, the big
monster dog veered away from me and headed towards Wol. I braced my heart against the certainty that my dog will be brutally murdered this morning. But the mauling that I expected and dreaded didn’t happen. When the dog saw Wol, his snarl transformed into a goofy smile, his hackles became smooth fur, and his powerful tail wagged like a deranged flag waver took possession of it.
Wol pretended to ignore the now obviously smitten stray and walked daintily out of the withered bushes. She looked my way and seemed to wink and say, “Coast’s clear, mum… the eagle has landed,” or some such blather.
The motorcycle’s engine mercifully came to life on my next attack on the kick starter. As I clanked down from that lonely mountain road, I saw the big dog running to and fro in front of my Wol, enticing her to play.
Today’s card is “Fortune”. It’s telling me to resist going against the universal flow and let all “hang loose” because the ride up ahead is unavoidable, inevitable. Also, the card warns of being too hasty in getting ahead without appreciating the landscape of my current surroundings. Maybe this is so because the best gifts usually come to us when we least expect them. Cheers, then, for the three weird ladies at the spinning wheel.
(a continuation of sorts)
Sky. Dawn. Ocher. Blood. Tears. Rust. Sunlight.
The earth birthed these colors and they are now on my palette. Salima, one of the Talaandig artists facilitating this workshop, showed us how to invoke the numerous hues of the earth, channel them to our brushes, and give life to them in the images we wrought on canvas.
Ad gloriam ex luto
From the mud to glory. Or something like that.
See, we are now painting. But the smell of turpentine and linseed oil is missing. The canvases before us are slowly filling with the images ushered up by our subconscious… a bird of prey there, a tree over there, a road leading to nowhere propped on a makeshift easel of stone, a face, a bowl of rice, an egg. Soil on canvas.
This is Day 3 at the Talaandig Village. The fog has not stopped caressing our cold bodies. The rain even joined in the fray and has never stopped beating down on the tin roof, so intent was it to take part in the day’s activity.
Today’s activity was one of the things I looked forward to before coming here. And as I plunged deeper into painting with soil, I had several epiphanies.
That painting with soil is a primeval art form.
That soil doesn’t consist of a single hue. My makeshift palette of tin cans containing a vast selection of colors, the so-called earth tones, attested to that fact.
That soil is an essential part of our lives; if there’s no soil, there’d be no place where plants could grow. The great circle of life. And I would not deny that the visuals that came to me that day were akin to some scenes right off Disney’s “Lion King”, with the great circle of life montage (creatures of wing and hoof thundering on and on across a great plain) plus the soundtrack itself played in full crescendo in my ears.
I must’ve looked drunk to all the others. But… but… but that afternoon, I must’ve waken up something within me that slept for a very long time. Because, cliche as it may sound, I came out of that activity with an understanding of how each of our lives is connected to everything else in the universe. And, yes, i was cold sober when this realization came.
Let me show you what I painted under Salima’s guidance: