We were invited to the Afghan hound rescue reunion in Dog Hotel Woof by my friends Mariko and Rie, who offered me so much loving advice and support finding a dog to adopt. However, what with Granma's hip replacement we couldn't be sure we could go, and were both too tired to set up binding commitments, so instead after visiting Granma we went to a park I'd never been to before, close to the old people's home, Maioka Park. Having parked the car we walked across the overpass into the park, and were immediately stunned by the number of elderly people wandering around sporting professional looking cameras, tripods, and full hiking gear.
After pausing to snap the camelias, now coming in season, we came into the maple grove, a vivid red, and realized that this was the reason for all the cameras (so we thought): a stupendously beautiful grove, where we attempted to calm Claire down enough to pose for a picture. In truth the delicious forest smell of the park was apparent even to my nose, earthy scents of mushrooms and leaves delighting the senses from the moment we parked the car. No wonder Claire was getting more and more animated, pulling at the leash and wanting to proceed, yes please right now, get snappy mummy.
After that we wandered on down a path that took our fancy (this being our first visit), and went through an open gate to walk on down the hill. On our left a group of students were researching bugs in the undergrowth, and as we turned a corner a fantastic vista of old Japan, with rice paddies and foliage, ditches and hayricks, greeted us. Claire's excitement could no longer be contained, she was in and out of the ditches, eager to explore, heady with the scents...
until a park ranger came up to us and said this was a protected area for wildlife, a research biotope, and Claire's presence and smell would disturb the animals. Hadn't we seen the sign at the gate? Oh dear, no, we said, and turned tail, walking up to the gate, where indeed the sign said no dogs.
We ended back up in the Japanese maple grove, and took a right instead, down the hill at Claire's suggestion: the path led on and on down the forest, with swamps and bamboo covered hillsides to left and right. Claire was pulling on the long lead, and it was all I could do to hold her back, but she knew right away this was going to get her to the pond at the other end of the restricted area, with all the birds and rural smells probably so familiar to her from her previous home and life.
Splosh, and she was in the pond, gulping the muddy water with thirst and aching to get at whatever ducks or birds it was that she could sense in the environs. Tosh came along behind snapping the scenery, but with Claire frantic and focused only on hunting she was hard to catch on film. We found another gate, a group of photographers inside snapping mud, so Tosh went to see what they were doing while i sat by the wayside with the lead wound round me and rested while Claire wrapped me up like a python, trying to get in the bamboo.
Tosh came back and reported the mud stuff was actually some rare tiny birds...as in below, and then we discussed whether to turn back to the car park or wander on along the winding river valley below the pond. I was getting tired, but felt like exploring some more, so we walked on to some more fantastic rice paddies and hay ricks.
Once again Claire found something irresistible in the rice paddy, and after some photos I realized I was getting too tired to hold her in check any longer, and we doubled back to the car with Tosh abandoning photography in favor of restraining the dog... When we arrived back at the carpark we were both utterly exhausted, perhaps with the healing forest scents more than the work of holding back Claire, and we all ended up sleeping away the rest of the afternoon on the sofa...What a great day!