There are certain points on our walks through the woods when Scapa takes off all of a sudden. Though, infrequently, this is the result of having caught the scent of a deer or a rabbit (or something else), more often than not she is heading to one of her wallowing-hole spots where she will rest and enjoy the water for a few moments until we catch up. There are times in the warmer months when they nearly all dry up, except for (occasionally) the water at the bottom of the high-sided ditch just before The Avenue. This is a shame, because Scapa is most happiest when she can cool down in the puddles after much merry stick-throwing in the sun.
Scapa isn’t the only one who loves puddles. Auri has started veering towards them to wade through them when at all possible. On one walk the other day, she gave her Papa the slip and merrily stomped her way through a not-insignificant puddle in her tough little shoes (new wellies are on order, ready for Autumn Proper).
Perhaps she gets it from Euan. What may yet be his magnum opus is a book all about the power and magic of puddles; one he wrote several years ago and which has been languishing in need of a firm editing. Life has been too busy to allow us to rise to the occasion thus far, but we are always ever-hopeful that time and headspace are just around the corner.
At what age do people start to see puddles as irritations, or things to be avoided? Is it because footwear becomes less practical as we get older? There is something to be said for stomping through puddles in a pair of wellington boots, regardless of your age. In January 2016, a puddle went viral, and over 20,000 people tuned in to #DrummondPuddleWatch, to watch people navigate a particularly large puddle in Newcastle. This certainly wasn’t the first or last time that Twitter went crazy over puddles. Perhaps, like ancestral memory, we still remember the unbridled joy of discovering puddles when we were younger. It wasn’t until I started to type this up that I remembered that our Primary School in Stenness had a slight dip in one end of the playground, nearly always populated by a puddle of some size. It always caused particular delight after especially heavy rainfall (for us children, at least; possibly not for the teachers or parents).
The year is turning; the birch leaves are starting to fall, and the larch is looking rusty. The puddles are coming back again. The water isn’t drying up now, and is stubbornly sticking around to be bolstered by the next rainfall. Scapa is overjoyed, as is Auri. I, on the other hand, am reminded that I need a new pair of wellies as mine have sprung a leak. It suddenly seems important – this year, more than any other – that I remember and experience the true joy of a good puddle.
23rd September 2020