I go for a fast walk every second day. Usually it's in the morning or early afternoon, but today I had other commitments and didn't get out for my walk until the evening, at 6.25. It was still light, the temperature mild after a warm day.
I hadn't gone far when I encountered a dog. He was black, and middle-sized. (You have to understand that I tend not to think a dog is a real dog unless it's at least the size of a German Shepherd. This one wasn't, but he wasn't a little titchy thing either.) From across the road he looked thin. I thought he must be a stray. He looked at me hopefully and made a slight move towards me. Despite thinking I shouldn't, I clicked my tongue and slapped my leg and he came across the road to me, cringing down low as he got near. Definitely a stray, I thought, as he crawled on his belly. I let him sniff my hand, told him he was a good boy, patted him and scratched behind his ears. I had visions of taking him home, sorting out the interaction with the cats, and trying to find someone to look after him. (Or, let's be honest, maybe keeping him.)
But when I set off again, he didn't come with me even though I called encouragingly. He started back to the other side of the road. When I didn't go with him, he just stood in the middle of the road looking at me. Luckily there was no traffic. 'Get off the road!' I shooed him, but he didn't move. I sighed and went with him to the other side. Then he made it very obvious we were at his house and he'd love me to come in and meet his people, and perhaps come and live with them. I declined, but I was glad he didn't need rescuing after all.
Round the next corner I met a Japanese girl walking fast and purposefully like me and listening to her ipod. We nodded as we marched past each other in opposite directions. Then I passed the share house where the Koori couple and all the young blokes live. Four of the men were sitting out on chairs by the garage door. They waved; I waved. 'G'day!' we called to each other with big grins.
I went around a court to add more time to my walk, to make up for interrupting it to talk to the dog. Two little girls in their pyjamas were out on the nature strip. 'Hi,' said the smaller one, 'That's a pretty necklace you're wearing.' I smiled and thanked her. When I came back down the opposite side of the street, they were on that side too. 'Hi,' said the same little girl, 'That's a pretty necklace you're wearing.'
Then, as I came towards my house, a very small boy passed me, riding slowly on a very small bike. 'I'm with no people,' he announced. 'Are you out on your own?' I said. 'Where do you live?' He pointed along the street. 'Down there.' I admonished him to be careful on the road – though he was the only piece of traffic in sight – and suddenly he sped away like a veteran. Good, he didn't need rescuing either.
I had no idea that going for a walk at this time of night would be such a social experience!