Posted by: normanlgreen | January 21, 2012

Dream, January 21, 2012 puppies, fields, bridges and fishes


Dream, Home 8:10 am

A film company is to take over some of the streets in downtown. The city is a blend of Bellingham and Waco, but may be set in a different country. Sherwin and I take turns carrying or pushing a chair – we do not want to lose it. Trucks idle on side streets as the movie crew sets-up reflectors for light, and set decor to transform our town to a past era. At a corner where five streets meet at odd angles, our friend Billy has a used book shop. The store is closed for the day, but Billy has asked us to come in through a back door, to lock it behind us, then after we are finished in the store, to leave via a window that can be locked from the outside. Sherwin and I poke through the books – there is an illustrated book on pirates and life at sea. The color plates are in the manner of Parrish or N. C. Wyeth. Outside the window, the sky takes on the colors of the palate of the illustrations.

Our other task while we are in the book shop is to collect Billy’s young puppy. We find the wire-haired pup laying against the front counter. He is very sweet, affectionate, but so young, he cannot hold still when held, so we take turns picking him up for a cuddle, then putting him down to race around the store. Sherwin climbs out the front window. I hand her the puppy, then struggle to fit the chair through the narrow horizontal opening. Once I get it onto the sidewalk, I see that it is the wrong piece of furniture – ours would never have fit. I climb though the window, while the film crew continues their set-up across the street. A policeman on horseback turns to look me in the face as I am half-way through the window. I tell him that we are friends of Billy, the owner – “he has asked us to get his dog.”

The Policeman asks: “Isn’t he the one who throws the famous parties?”

I answer: “I wouldn’t know about that. I don’t go to parties.”

The policeman shrugs and turns back to face the developing set.

A young man sidles-up to us to warn us that there will be “a political action” to disrupt the filming. If we leave immediately, we will be safer and less likely to be included amongst those who take the blame.

Sherwin and I decide to take the dog and the wrong chair to our own bookstore, which is a few blocks away. We walk into the shade of a street at 45 degrees from the others. We push the chair on its casters – it has a shelf built into the back of it. A row of paperbacks fills the little shelf. We cross the street at our corner, unlock our glass door and set the puppy down inside. He instantly bolts out the door and around the corner to the left. I push the chair/shelf down an aisle and run out the front door after the little black dog.

Soon I realize that I do not know the town nor even the country in which it is located. There are many dogs to be seen, down streets, in vacant lots. They range from mid-sized to very small, most of them are black, so at first glance I believe I may have spotted Billy’s puppy, but they always prove to be too large, or too small, too straight-haired, or they have a white spot on their chests. None of them are as universally black as the puppy I chase.

I walk down a dirt path that leads into a deeply shaded park. The hill rises to my left as I walk deeper into a gully. On the hillside, large dogs disciple smaller dogs, training them for pack activity. Past this dog boot-camp, children stand in a silent group. Some of them have been hooded in a spangled black material which has been tied to them using nets of black nylon cord. At first glance I confuse one of the children for the dog. Out the back side of the park, to the South, the view opens onto a truck farm of beans and peppers. I step carefully from one irrigation trench to the next so I do not disturb the crops. Again, more dogs can be seen at the edges of the field, but I cannot confirm they are not the dog in question until I get very close – I waste a lot of time in this way. There is an old man who trundles a cart on the dirt road above the South end of the field. He does not speak English, so I ask in pantomime if he has seen a small dog. He points toward an off-white stucco church at the Southwest corner of the field.

I run toward the church, realizing that I do not know the name of the dog to call after him. I yell “Puppy – Puppy” as I enter the church. There are many people inside, as there is a wedding taking place. Some of them turn to give me a good-natured shushing. Fortunately, I have entered through a back door and am in a small waiting room off the sanctuary. A woman whispers “Vespers.”

I back out of the church, cross the road, then drop down into another pepper field in a narrow valley. A well-dressed older woman with a walking stick follows me down into the rows of dark green plants. She laughs and speaks English with a trace of an accent I cannot place. The right end of the field has a white-washed wall, as though the field had one been a soccer park for a school. Built into the wall, there are short staircases at the foot of every other row of plants. The staircases climb for eight feet and simply end. The woman and I move to this edge of the field, as the plants grow thinner at this point and we are less likely to damage any of them with our feet. I look down to step carefully. Shaded by the leaves, purple bean pods hang heavily. At the far side, we climb out onto another dirt road. The sky is clouded only at the edges, and the low sun colors them with gold that makes the deep purple curls of their shadows even richer. The woman and I have been joined by a young man who works these fields. I tell them both that they live in the most beautiful country I have ever visited. The soil is so rich, the colors are so strong, the people look so happy – this is a very rich country. What else do the grow here, besides the beans and the peppers?

“Nothing that can be counted on.” answers the boy. “People can steal your crops and claim that you have eaten them all yourself.”

After we pass a small grove of banana trees, we come to a group of animal hutches at the East end of the fields. I see that some contain rabbits, but others have thin, nearly hairless white cats – one of them reaches through the wire to scratch me. I do not want to ask why they are being raised in this manner.

Earlier: I travel from campground to campground, exploring the country. I set up my tent near the seashore, then look out across a deep estuary. I know that my father is somewhere on the peninsula opposite me. An abandoned railway trestle curves between where I am and where he is. I decide to risk losing my gear by crossing above the inlet on the old bridge.

Once I start the crossing, I find that the way is very narrow. At times there is only a single rail left in place – after a stretch, the bridge is no longer of wood, but a causeway of dirt, stone and brick that sweeps up from the valley below – hundreds of feet. I drape my right arm over the peak of the causeway, walking a narrow ledge to the left side. I move at a quick pace, dragging my arm over the rough surface, knowing that my jacket is taking a beating.

When I reach the other side, my father is there. He greets me in a low grumble and leads me to the far side of this peninsula. There I see docks for fishing boats. No fisherman are to be seen, but tourists ask us about the fish that can be seen swimming from the sea into a small river that leads into inland shadows. The fish are two to four feet in length and colored like red coral. Their wide forms swish lazily through the shallows. They are safe, as they are not to be caught and eaten.

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