• Deborah A Allen

Goodbye summer.

Goodbye summer, goodbye fair-weather walkers

Last night my daughter, her husband and I went to watch the fireworks in Harlingen which mark the end of the visserijdagen . The sun set by 9,15 and the air had a chill as the show ended and we made our way back to the car. It’s the only time I can enjoy fireworks because in this show they are let off from the pier well away from spectators and its professional , there are no idiots running about throwing the darn things.

For me the visserijdagen always mark the end of the summer maybe because it means the children are starting back to school (although mine are all grown up now) and because the days are getting shorter and colder again.

I know only just September, but we have had some very wet and windy days and according to the shops its already deep into winter time ... The clothing shops are full of jumpers and winter coats, the shoe shops are filling up with boots and the homeware shops are filling up with winter decorations and warm fluffy throws and cushions.

Another sign that the wetter colder days are coming is the lack of dog walkers, this weekend ours was the only car parked at the nature reserve we like to visit. At the woods we were the only people willing to brave the colder temperature (its gone from 23c at 7am to just 8c in less than 3 weeks) and the wet soggy grass.

I feel quite sad for those dogs doomed to months of quick walks on city streets and a sniff in the local park if they are lucky, its as if people think that dogs don’t need adventures or long walks or things to sniff during the winter.

I do realise that not every dog enjoys walking in winter but for those who do it must be so soul destroying to confined to these boring city street walks.

So can I point out a few things that really help?

Wellington boots; invented nearly two hundred years ago, these waterproof boots made from PVC or rubber keep your feet dry and any mud splashes can simply be washed off.

Another invention also almost 200 years old is the raincoat or Macintosh a simple but effective concept of a long waterproof coat thereby stopping the wearer from getting wet.

An even older invention is that of the umbrella which dates back to pre-Roman times, although they did not become common in Europe until about 300 years ago this simple device will keep the rain off your head.

If at this point you detect a note of sarcasm you would be right, people tend to behave as if the slightest bit of cold, rain or mud will seriously damage their health..Heres some news for you...

It won't!

As for dogs, there are now a range of fleeces and rain wear to keep them warm and dry or if like me you have a dog who has no worries about getting filthy then a simple watering can filled with clean warm water, left inside the back door to cool down while you walk so that on your return you simply wash any mud off and dry the dog.. Simple.

Of course, there is one event that gets everyone out and that’s the first snowfall... Suddenly the parks are full of people holding phones and cameras trying hard to get that picture postcard pose from their dog or child so that they can post it to FB or add it to their Christmas album. Sadly, most of the dogs and children have so much pent up energy from their winter confinement by this time that they are wild with excitement and the grown-ups just end up yelling at them to stand still while they bounce around crashing into each other and everyone else.

In general apart from the snowfall if there is any, the end of summer means the end of the fair-weather walkers and their dogs. Not that I mind, having the woods all to yourself is a feeling of overwhelming wealth like being king of all that you survey. I love to see the colours of autumn and hear the scrunch of the fallen leaves under my feet.

I love the late sunrises that turn the sky a deep orange and the mist that makes everything so soft and mysterious. I love to photograph fungi that thrives in the dampness of the colder months, to feel the frosty grass snap under my boots, to see my breath billowing like soft warm clouds in the cold air and seeing the ice spreading its cold fingers across the water.

So, I say goodbye to all you fair weather walkers until the springtime but while you stay close to home walking only on dismal city streets I will enjoy the wonders that nature will bring this autumn and winter.

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