September Op-Ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News
Recently I went for my first-ever walk to Cayoosh Park with my sister and Missy, her little Chihuahua cross. It was a beautiful, blustery day. We circled the downed hangman’s tree and I thought about the men who’d been hung on this hillside, how the last thing they would have seen was this same spectacular vista I was seeing, the same impressive mountains and Fraser River.
I figured that from some locations down below people would have been able to look up to the hillside and see a body hanging. You’d think the poor souls might have been hung with less public spectacle, but I guess that was the point, to instill fear, to showcase that rough, harsh justice.
Anyway, just as I was mulling this macabre piece of local history, little Missy took off running. (Unfortunately, we hadn’t yet noticed the sign saying that dogs must be on leash.) Missy generally lives up to her name by being 14 pounds of sweet and delightful but not on this day. Maybe it was the variable weather and a sky churning with storm clouds, maybe it was the aroma of bear on the wind, or maybe the disgruntled spirits of hanged men were casting mischievous spells, but suddenly she was channelling her inner attack dog.
She streaked across the grass expanse like a white comet. My sister yelled and yelled but nothing could stop Missy, she was locked onto her target. Across the park, walking along Hangman’s Lane, was a spry, older woman with two dogs on leash. One dog was smaller and curly-haired, the other dog was mid-sized and quite stout. My sister and I rushed toward the scene.
In a dizzying display of agility, Missy charged and feinted, barked and dodged. The woman held tight to her dogs, who, though restrained, were bouncing around with this little white devil dog. Within moments the leather leashes became a tangled knot. What had just been a tranquil scene turned into a tornado of noise and confusion.
Before my sister could get hold of Missy, the bigger dog decided it had had enough of this foolish Chihuahua. It lunged, throwing its ample weight forward against the leash, and the woman fell face-first to the ground. Like a flipped pancake, I told her a bit later when we’d got to the laughing.
After I helped her to her feet and walked her home, she told me a quick story about another time she’d taken a fall. It was years ago when she lived in Edmonton, on a day when the streets were slick with silky mud, she in high heels, suddenly skating down the sidewalk, arms flailing as she tried to keep herself upright. Finally after what seemed like an eternity she went down like a deer on a marble floor. We figured anybody watching must have been laughing for days, and who knows, maybe when they recall it now they’re still laughing.