Dog trains man

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Where There Is No Time

I hesitated for a moment. It was 7am. "No, I am not going to do it," I whispered to myself. Before there were dogs in my life, I preferred to start my working day at 7am, well ahead of my co-workers and customers, who usually start at 9-ish.
I appreciated that extra time I could spent undisturbed. It made me feel well-prepared for the day to come. To have everything organized and planned before the rest of the world starts and broadsides you with urgent requests. Even up to this day I still have that short moment of hesitation, in which it feels like throwing the opportunity for a good start of the day out of the window by leaving for a walk the dogs. Even while I know better by now. Old habits die hard. When I step in the car, I can't help it. A feeling of wasting my advantage is creeping up on me.

We drive to a military training ground just South of where we live. It is Summer and there are still a lot of tourists in the area, but I know they will leave us alone over here. They won't venture passed the warning signs with tanks on them, not knowing the terrain is only really used when there are large international training exercises. Which is maybe twice a year. The rest of the year, there is not a military soul other than some patrols.

We are met by solitude and my surroundings soon smother any need I still felt to start work early. Zerline and Tilde do the rest. They are both anxious to reach the beach.

We pass by some houses. Remnants of a time when people lived harsh lives here. Once farmers tried to scrape a living together in the relentless elements and infertile soil of the West-coast, before the Danish state expropriated them and gave their land and homes to the military. The windows and doors have been replaced with painted plywood. A cheap roof is placed on top in an attempt to protect the structure against the weather. If ghosts exist, this is where they would live.

Only their houses remain as a monument of a time which once was. Their lands and crops are reclaimed by nature. It is as if there never lived man here. The ease by which nature returns and erases our human footprints make me realize how tiny and insignificant we are. Nature is patient. She let us rage and make mistakes. But her return is inevitable, it can just not be measured on any time scale we humans can grasp.

We spot a herd of deer. The area is teeming with wild-life and holds one of the largest populations of red deer in Denmark. Oddly, nature is thriving on a military training ground. The absence of people, roads, nature "management" activities and our other well-intended attempts for improvement or lack thereof, has created an oasis in which wild-life flourishes. Scientist were even surprised by the biodiversity they found when they researched the area. The large army tanks seemed to have a beneficiary effect, instead of the destructive effect you would expect, as they take over the role of the large grazers like bison and elk who once lived in this area.

We walk ever forward through this land where time seems to have lost its grip. The grand finale is still to come. Tilde and Zerline start to pull the leash, they know we are close now. The wind starts to pick up and we can taste the salt in the air. We are curious how the North Sea will welcome us today. Will she be dressed in turqoise, serene and calm, or will she wear the darkest and deepest of blue, furious and threatening. The wind carries needles of sand which make me want to close my eyes. But I have to look. Look at eternity and bow for her might. She never looks back. I am as insignificant to her as the sand she blows in my face.

Two hours later we return and I log my computer in to the company network. It is 9-ish, and my co-workers in Paris, Copenhagen, Münich and The Hague start to join the company chat. There's talk about the usual traffic jams and public transportation issues. Minutes later, the first urgent request comes in. The sender says it is important too. My walk with the dogs through the land where there is no time has done its work. I tell him I am happy to help, while thinking, that all is relative. I give Tilde and Zerline a hug and thank them for the best way to start the day. I hope we can do it again tomorrow.

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