Farley and I have found a new walk we both like. It’s the dirt path that leads from the Panoramica to the Presa. The Presa lies beyond the mountain and the cross that separates our neighborhood from hills, dirt, horses, cows, and sky. I like it here. Farley does too. There’s usually nobody on the path but bikers putting in their miles on their way to Santa Rosa.
Last Sunday, we were walking back from the Presa when we crossed paths with an old man. He was hunched over, brown like the mountains and wrinkled liked them too. His clothes were dusty and well worn. He carried a large walking stick and his hand looked like a knot that had grown out of the stick. We stopped to talk to one another. He asked me how far I had walked, and I told him. Meanwhile, Farley stood behind me and cried, completely spooked by the old man. The old man started talking to Farley, asking him why he was crying, calling him Chillion, and told him he wasn’t going to hurt him. Farley’s cries became louder, as if he was arguing with the man. This prompted the man to tell Farley to act like a man, not a girl puppy…. “You’re a boy! Why are you crying like a little girl?!”
At this point, I started to laugh. The old man asked if Farley was afraid of everything. I told him that he wasn’t and that I didn’t know why he was behaving this way. Farley was now tucking his face into the back of my knees and whimpering. The old man told me he had five dogs at his place if Farley ever wants to play and if I would like to share a cafecito with him. I thought about it.
Then yesterday, as the sun was setting, I saw the old man again. I observed him from the top of a hill as he fed his horses, two of his dogs following him around. Farley stood with me and watched as well. Maybe one of these days, we’ll stop by for coffee.