Earlier today Wiley and I headed off on our usual bush walk. We didn’t have any plans for the morning so I decided we could enjoy one of our longer walks. It started out lovely, there is something special about the feel of the bush in early autumn.
We had been walking for about 30 minutes when suddenly things started to feel a little off. I stopped and had a feel around with my cane, that was when I figured out that my beautiful familiar path had disappeared and been replaced by a freshly graded one.
My heart sank. Suddenly the tactical route markers that my cane detects, like tree roots, rocks, dips, erosion gullies had disappeared. The feeling beneath my feet was completely foreign, all of the muscle memory that helped me pick the safest line to take had vanished. It was like I had never walked the path before.
I gingerly stepped forward using the cane to make sure each step was going to be a safe one. To make things worse the new surface was covered with lots of loose sandy feeling dirt. My cane kept getting stuck, it was like walking along a beach.
On the bright side, apparently recently graded dirt contains a smorgasbord of delicious and interesting smells,. Wiley was having a great time sniffing his way along and as I was going so slowly there was plenty of time for him to indulge his nose. At least someone was enjoying themselves.
I decided to change the initial walk I had planned so I could get off the graded track and onto another, unchanged one ASAP. Oh the relief when my feet stepped onto familiar turf, it was like meeting up with an old friend.
Normally I don’t pay much attention to my lack of vision. I have routines, aids, skills, training and systems in place that make life manageable. So when I walk into situations like this mornings it takes me a little by surprise.
I dislike feeling vulnerable, uncertain and frustrated – which is exactly how I felt this morning. At least I had my beautiful Wiley with me, a quick pat and cuddle with him always makes me feel better. I also knew that I could rely on him to do his absolute best to help me out if I needed him to. Thankfully today all I had to do was take it nice and easy until I was on familiar ground again.
This morning also reinforced how much easier it is walking somewhere new when I am working with Wiley. It certainly would have been less stressful if Wiley was in harness and guiding me along the path
The rest of the walk was lovely. I met a couple of dog walkers and their gorgeous dogs which quickly restored my previous good mood.