Strange how things can change in an instant and how the ordinary can become something so very different in the briefest flash of time. I have often been wary of this while wandering alone at night and I take steps to keep risks to a minimum, even on my familiar trails I am well aware that an injury or fall could cause considerable difficulties.
Yesterday brought about a moment of the unexpected. I will only take my oldest dog Fen (she is mentioned in the post The Company of an Old Friend) on longer walks once or perhaps twice a week. My good lady will taker her on gentle strolls near to the hovel and during daylight hours to keep a careful eye on her. In many ways it suits both of them, my partner broke her ankle a little under two years ago and her recovery has been a long one. While I was making a few repairs to the hovel she decided to take Fen for a short walk to stretch her legs. Taking her phone she headed out of the door with Fen excitedly bouncing around beside her.
Almost half an hour passed by before my phone rang and I found myself on the end of a cry for help. It was a brief dash down the country lanes to find them at a bridge crossing one of the larger drainage ditches in the area. Fen had managed to stumble while crossing the narrow foot bridge and had toppled off the timber planks into the ditch some six feet below. She was already shivering from the cold water and caked in the thick slurry at the bottom of the ditch, my partner had not the strength or footing to get her over of the steep sides and Fen had repeatedly fallen back in after making several attempts to get herself out and given her advanced years she had simply run out of strength.
I slid down the side of the ditch and joined my dog in the filth. It took a hefty lift to drag her clear of the mud and after a few careful steps up the ditch bank I was able to lift her back onto the bridge where my partner escorted her onto the country lane. Amazingly Fen was unhurt apart from being very cold. After getting her back home and cleaning her up with warm water she seemed to be non-the-worse for her fall. Another such step at another time could have brought about far more serious consequences.
The ditches in this area seem to catch people out every winter. Usually drivers who hit ice, but last year I was once nearly in the depths of an icy ditch myself until I realised I was about to take a wrong step. Sometimes it takes a close call to bring a moment of clarity, the trick is remembering those moments and recalling them at the right time.
Travel well and travel safely my friends.