We are staying in Tatry Zachodnie for the next few weeks. In a way, it is a bit of working and researching holidays for the family. We are exploring the mountains in southern Poland with the aim of finding a piece of land to build a homestead and holidaying accommodation for guests.
We are based in Lapszanka, on the Polish and Slovakian border, with the magnificent view over Western Tatras. The imposing, ragged summits define the landscape and put a human being in its humble place with its scale and the power they exude.
The other day, we took the very little traveled trail with the aim to reach the river Bialka in the village behind the mountain. The trail signage was a bit patchy, the trail was damaged by nature in places. We had to trace back our footsteps once when we took a wrong turn and find a passing place over the stream taken over by beavers. The map and GPS were helpful to establish the bearings and the direction when no trail was left behind.
It was a great little adventure, "the bear hunt" with children, to experience the raw mountain nature at its best. Quiet and remote. On the way back, the little one insisted we stop by the village shop and enjoy an ice cream.
As we continued to climb back the village road back to our chalet, a small dog appeared from one of the farmhouses we passed. The little fellow was beside himself to come across children to play with. Girlie Wirlie and Zooby Boy gave him lots of good cuddles, plenty of strokes and massaged his tummy. The dog was apparently quite young still, very playful and refused to return to his home when we continued the climb.
I stopped with children again, they played together for a few moments and I asked them to continue walking as our feet were worn after a long hike and we had still a fair bit to cover to get to the chalet. The dog stopped in the middle of the road, looked at us surprised. It cocked his head sideways and looked at me with a question: why do you stop the good fun?!
After assuring the children that tomorrow we will be back here for fresh bread and they can play with him then, I rushed them to keep on walking. I was aware the dog will follow us for a bit until it got discouraged by a lack of attention and return home.
But it is when life's unpredictability appeared behind the road's bend.
From bend, a blue car appeared. The village is quiet, but there are still people and farm animals going about. The driver slowed down seeing the dog and the dog jumped to the side. We turned around and began climbing up again, keeping left to let the car pass. My hubby was ahead of us, waiting for us to get even with him. He was the one who saw what happened.
For whatever reason, the little dog suddenly left the safety of the grass and jumped right in the front of the car, while the driver started to accelerate again since the road was empty for him. We heard a loud thud and silence. Immediately, we knew what happened, I turned and saw the dog motionless on the asphalt. Not a sound, except our disbelieving calling out at each other!
My Zooby Boy got a shock! Disbelieving and trying to comprehend that a chance encounter with a full of life, playful dog a few seconds back, came to such an end so abruptly with really no sense or reason.
The commotion in the village life lasted a few minutes, and then life continued as it did before. As it always does.
We started walking back, Zooby Boy was holding my hand stiffly with a hat firmly covering his face. He did not cry, he was stiff with a shock of what he witnessed. He is just seven years old and it was his first encounter with how suddenly death appears. And that contrast was so stark, the minute they played together carelessly and a minute later his playful buddy was gone.
I could see how in the coming hours, he was trying to arrange and compartmentalise all those emotions, happenings in his head, asking about the dog's grave, dog's heaven, etc. It is the toughest life's lesson to comprehend and accept that we all are like a flame in the wind. There is no rhyme and reason often why things turn out.
We live in the now, duping ourselves that tomorrow we do this and that. We make plans while God laughs at us...