They were two great big sticks. Maybe six inches thick and four feet long. OK more like small tree trunks but to Matt they were dawdle sticks.“I call them that because they make you dawdle,” he explained. And they certainly did. We were five hours into an eight kilometre walk and still had three kilometres to go. Not that we minded. We had time to kill, to lay down in meadows, examine trees, chew grass, share a sandwich, talk about nothing, drag sticks.
It started as one giant dawdle stick. He found it in the bush, just off the path, snapped clean off its’ mother trunk. Its’ size made such an impression he threw away little stick pistols to take charge of this cannon.
I’m not carrying it
“Are you going to bring that with you?” I asked. He nodded, hauled the cannon out of the bush and began to drag it along the path behind him. I wondered whether to stop him but thought better of it. It’s his walk too, his stick, his experience.
We wandered on, more slowly, with frequent stops to adjust the cannon. “Will you help me Dad? It’s really heavy.” But I wasn’t going to get involved. “It’s your cannon, your choice. You can always leave it behind.”
But Matt doesn’t leave things behind easily, not once he’s decided on something. There’s something of myself in him there. Our pace slowed to a dawdle, then less than a dawdle. The cannon began to irritate me. “Will you help me Dad? It’ll be quicker.” A battle of wills was developing. I didn’t want to spoil my walk carrying a cannon.
We reached a gate and stopped for a moment. I thought we might leave it here but Matt had other ideas. He hauled the stick up and launched it over into the meadow beyond. It landed with a crack and split in two. Game over I thought. But no, now we had twin barrels.
It looked hard dragging those two logs in the sunshine. Across fields, along tracks, through styles, over gates, along the road. A half hour dragged by and there were still two kilometres to go. He sweated, stopped, wiped his brow, rested a moment, summoned strength and determination, then picked up the logs and dragged them on. “I said I would get them to Arnside and I will.” I had to admire his determination.
“Would you like a hand?” I asked. He grinned his big wide cheeky grin and I picked up the other ends of the cannons. No more dragging now, just dawdling, father and son, carrying sticks to Arnside, him at the front, me at the back, connected by dawdle sticks.