Driving to work the other day, I was waiting at a traffic light intersection for the lights to turn green. To my left behind the kerb were a number of mature trees that formed the border of a university campus, one of which looked to have lost its bark completely from its trunk, leaving only the smooth, white grey wood beneath.
The wood, however, was not bare and as naked as the tree looked among the others standing there, it also boasted what looked like an aboriginal design of a spirit painted on the surface.
The image was about three foot high, but could not remember having seen it there before. Was it the work of student pranksters? had it been commissioned by the university buy an artist in residence? had it been there all along waiting for the last three years for me to notice it as I drove past every day.
As the traffic lights changed, I found myself thinking of a young aboriginal boy who was a student at a school where I worked. He was quiet, but tall and striking, had been adopted by one of the teachers at the school, a white lady, and I never really questioned how he managed to bridge the gap between his two cultures.
He was not an academic, but boy could he run. When he was out on the athletic track no- one could get near him. I have a very clear memory of him running at speed down the track and marvelling at how fluidly his limbs worked to get him across the line.
I have not thought about that boy in years, but I thought of him again today as I saw a tweet that had a Facebook link to a page appealing for help to find a foster home for a boxer dog in Queensland. There was a picture of the poor thing, in the pound. Her ribs were showing through her coat but she had the prettiest face. I thought of the boy because one of his teachers had been a very good mate of mine, but someone I have not seen in decades. She had a rescue boxer dog and I thought that if anyone I knew would step in to try and help, if only to foster until a more permanent solution became available, it would be her.
So I sent her the link.
She responded immediately – I love Boxers! Of course I will try to help, but I do not know how Facebook works.
So I took a screenshot of the message and sent it as a photo. It had the email address and the details that they would need. Then I checked throughout the day to see if she had read the message.
Just as I got into the car to come home, she got back to me to tell me that she had emailed them to offer help. She would be glad to help. Although the boxer dog was held in a pound some five hours from where they lived, she knew someone near the pound who came up her way and they would find a way to make it work, if help was still needed.
I have always known that I have exquisite taste in friends. I have not spoken to this woman in years and yet we chatted and swapped news as if we had last spoke a fortnight ago, instead of (between us) we were six children – four fostered on her side -several rescue dogs – on both sides – and a couple of husbands – one each later.
An hour or so later and she had still not heard back from the rescue organisation, so I offered to use my extended wizardry skills on Facebook and message them to let them know she had emailed. I got a message back from them a while later to say thanks and that they had emailed her back.
I have no idea what the outcome of this was: whether they had found a home in the meantime, whether they were going to take her up on her offer, or whether they wanted to but felt that an extended menagerie might be too stressful for a dog that looked as though she was already stressed to the point of collapse. I just hope it was not that the dog could not be saved in time.
For me at least, it was a joy to reconnect with a friend from the past and to know that somethings do not change.