Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Of fog and dogs!

One of those quirks of Galician weather occurred this morning.

I went out at about 8.30, ran up the hill and round the back roads, ending up near the Carrefour shopping centre, then down the hill to buy bread and finally up about 60 steps back up to our street. The curious geography of Vigo means that roughly parallel streets, such as Travesía de Vigo and Aragón, where our flat is situated, are connected, for pedestrians at any rate, by sets of quite ancient stone steps. The steps were probably there before the major thoroughfares, reflecting a time when there were separate little communities, now dwarfed by huge blocks of flats.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue. There was still blue sky and sunshine when I popped out again at around 10.00 to buy milk at the supermarket next door. However, in the time it took to exit the supermarket, enter our building and go up to the seventh floor in the lift, the fog moved in.

All the local landmarks - A Guía, the Castro, the ugly hospital building - disappeared. The temperature dropped. Instead of a cool breeze coming in through the window, there was that strange smell of sea fog, vaguely reminiscent of swimming pool changing rooms. It’s not the first time I have seen this happen but it never fails to amaze me that the change can take place so quickly. The forecast said it would clear later in the day but by midday it had grown denser if anything, visibly moving up the hillside behind the flats.

This is why people here, as in the UK, talk about the weather.

During her concert, which I went to while back in the UK, K D Lang commented on having recently moved back to live in Canada after quite a long time in California. In California, she told us, nobody talks about the weather. Well, there is no need, is there?

We remain amazed at the number of dogs we see around here, even in the centre of town. I suppose that because the UK does not have a long tradition of city centre, high-rise living we don’t expect to see many dogs in city centres. We prefer to keep our dogs in outer suburbs where there is a least a back yard, if not an actual garden, for the dog to pop out into. Here nobody thinks anything of having an enormous dog in a top floor flat. The dogs must be well trained, that’s all I can say, if they can signal that they need to go our for a pee and you have to take them down umpteen floors in the lift!

Big dogs there are but there are also a lot of very small dogs. You see huge great men walking tiny rat-like creatures, although with rather longer legs than the average rat, and looking very odd as they do so. There used only to be chihuahuas by way of tiny dogs but nowadays there seem to be lots of different sorts of miniature breeds. And I swear that even the chihuahuas have got smaller!

Having tiny dogs is fraught with a different kind of danger. Here is a story from Melbourne, Australia, from 2016:-

 “The owner of a chihuahua puppy remains hopeful the dog is still alive after it was snatched from her backyard and carried away by crows. Four-month-old Fudge, who was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, was swooped upon by crows while outside her owner Heather Sinden’s home in Melbourne’s outer east on Wednesday afternoon.”

And here is another from Monday of this week, this time from the UK:-

 “A dog owner has asked for help to be reunited with her miniature chihuahua after a seagull took it from a garden in Devon. Becca Hill, 24, from Paignton, has appealed for information about four-year-old Gizmo, who was carried away on Sunday afternoon.
She told the Devon Live website: “My partner was in the garden putting the washing out at the time and suddenly he saw it swoop down. It carried Gizmo a fair way as we couldn’t see him any more. I have no idea if he was dropped or where he is now.””

I hold out little hope for poor Gizmo. I have seen how fierce seagulls can be, attacking pigeons, scaring innocent terraza-sitters by trying to steal the snacks off their very tables in front of their very eyes!

If I had a little, tiny dog in this city of multitudinous gulls I would be very wary indeed!

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